Denis Stolyarov - The Courtauld Institute of Art

Denis Stolyarov

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Denis Stolyarov

PhD student

Thesis: (Post)Soviet Art in the Era of Wild Capitalism, 1986 – 1996

Supervised by Prof. Sarah Wilson
Supported by V-A-C foundation (

The aim of my research is to trace those transformations that occurred in Russian art during the last years of Soviet history as well as during the period of ‘wild’ capitalism intrinsic to the upcoming post-Soviet reality. The questions at stake revolve around the aspects of interrelations between socio-political turbulence and those changes that were happening in the field of cultural production.

In the late 1980s Russian culture started to attract international attention both as a source of innovative aesthetic experience and a market for cultural consumption. All actors of the Russian art-world, including artists, state officials, curators and newly established institutions had to face new circumstances under which they now had to operate and to which they had to respond in a somehow adequate way. Old mechanics of communal co-existence stopped functioning and the original strategies had to be developed, while new players were emerging on the scene, including foreign agents of influence, representatives of young financial elite and international corporate entities.

The new order challenged the artists to adjust their agenda as the old one was immediately deemed irrelevant. They were discovering new discourses, and the past was eagerly discarded. It became the moment of self-colonisation, while internal tension was arising. The revelation and disillusionment that followed invoked radicalism as a legitimate artistic strategy and a new generation of self-reflective artists appeared, born directly out of precariousness of the establishing balance.

The thesis will examine the process of infusion of a peripheral art scene into the universal context as well as subsequent bilateral reactions; while at the same time will question the homogeneity and legitimacy of the very concept of ‘the globalised art-world’.


  • 2008 – 2013 Lomonosov Moscow State University, Faculty of History, Department of Modern and Contemporary History of European and American Countries (Specialist in History – equivalent to 2:1)
    Thesis: “Discussion on the social responsibility of the state in England in the late Victorian age”
  • 2013 – 2014 The Courtauld Institute of Art, London (MA with Distinction in History of Art, “Global Conceptualism: the last Avant-Garde or a new beginning”)
    Dissertation: “Buffoonery and Protest: New Wave in unofficial Soviet Art, 1974 – 1985”

Recent conference papers

  • ‘Absurdisation of daily routine as a political statement in the oeuvre of Dmitry Prigov’, 5th Prigov readings, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, 6 November 2015.

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