Society girl Dasha Zhukova is best known as Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s girlfriend. But she is far more smarter than just a trophy fiancée. Not only is Zhukova a fashion designer and Pop Magazine editor, but also she is busy fostering interest in contemporary art in Russia. In 2008, Zhukova founded The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture in Moscow, a space that hosts important contemporary art exhibits by artists like Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami.
The Garage was inaugurated with a show by Ilya Kabakov (the godfather of Russian contemporary art) and an affluent party with Charlotte Casiraghi, Ronald S. Lauder, Larry Gagosian and Amy Winehouse in attendance. Since then, Zhukova has overseen an education program there with free master classes, a free digital library, children’s workshops, film screenings and lectures. Housed in the 1920s bus garage with a floor space of 92,000 square feet and unusual array of vertical and circular windows, the center is an impressive feat of Constructivist-era engineering. The sheer scale of the project reflects Zhukova’s ambition to catapult her on to the international art scene. The Garage has already awakened comparisons with New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate Modern.
Zhukova is determined to import high-profile exhibitions only. The next one, Vinyl: Records and Covers by Artists, is scheduled on Oct.9. It will show in visual and acoustic presentation long-playing records of visual artists and will illustrate how artists throughout the 20th century have experimented with language and sound. Exhibition curator Guy Schraenen explains: “Artists from different trends of art created for their sound works the adequate covers. The exposition is divided into different sections, ranging from the avant-garde movements like Dadaism and Futurism until most recent sound experiments. Special parts of the display deal with artists like Richard Hamilton, Andy Warhol, Robert Frank or Les Levine.”
If you don’t have taste for contemporary art, thoughtful Zhukova has reorganized The Garage Café, which her culture center also features. The menu was developed by chef from London; installed bakery and an extensive wine and cocktail lists were also introduced.
So for the art sake or not, The Garage is worth visiting this autumn.
The Garage, www.garageccc.com/eng/.