Forget about Berlin basement galleries, London graduate shows and New York art fairs, contemporary art collectors are flocking to St Petersburg for the latest masterpieces. From experimental art installations at Anna Nova to world-class photography at ROSPHOTO, abstract sculpture at Erarta Museum and controversial creative hubs like Taiga St Petersburg, the burgeoning art scene here offers a fresh perspective on contemporary art. Take a look at our favourite galleries in St Petersburg for the city’s most exciting, avant-garde spaces.
Having found its home in a Soviet-era former synthetic rubber research institute (whew), Erarta is the largest private museum of contemporary art in Russia. Housing over 2,300 works by 250 artists from across the country, the Erarta Museum is an impressive creative space displaying a variety of contemporary works including painting, sculpture and photography. Music enthusiasts should seek out the soundtrack installations, foodies can sample pickled herring in the minimalist café and fashion folk will love the on-trend clothing and accessories in the first floor fashion boutique.
Founded in 2005, Anna Nova is one of the most influential contemporary art galleries in St Petersburg. With a focus on visual arts, this two-storey space is known for its large-scale installations and experimental approach to painting, sculpture and video art. The work on display is by both Russian and international artists, though there is a strong focus on promoting an understanding and awareness of the St Petersburg contemporary art scene. A great place to pick up an artwork of you own, Anna Nova offers a special service for those looking to build their own private collection.
Just a brisk 20-minute walk from Erarta Museum is Novy Muzei (both of these galleries in St Petersburg are located on Vasilievsky Island). Opened in 2010 by local businessman and art collector Aslan Chekhoyev, it’s housed in an unassuming 19th century apartment block, and home to approximately 300 works of boundary-breaking modern art. Marvel at a naked Stalin, Roosevelt and Hitler painted by controversial Russian art duo Komar and Melamid, or admire The Three Mannequins by Boris Turetsky, a cubist-inspired painting which was found in an abandoned Moscow apartment.
Budding photographers will enjoy a visit to one of the leading photography galleries in St Petersburg, ROSPHOTO. With around 50 exhibitions taking place each year, the ever-rotating selection of artworks spans everything from photographic exhibitions and installations, to video art, animation and experimental cinema. Attracting a range of renowned artists from across the globe, as well as a selection of up-and-coming homegrown talent, ROSPHOTO often works in partnership with other respected international galleries – including the Goethe Institute, Mondriaan Foundation and the Musee d’Orsay – to produce its avant-garde exhibitions.
A truly innovative art space, Taiga St Petersburg is perhaps not a gallery in its purest form, but it’s certainly one of the most exciting creative hubs in St Petersburg. Housed in a formerly derelict mansion, it’s now the dynamic home of approximately 20 designers, creative start-ups and design studios, with everything from an electric guitar showroom to an industrial design studio, camera shop, graphic design workspace, recording studio, radio station and fashion boutique on site. What more could we possibly want?
Murder, intrigue, crime and punishment… St Petersburg has it all. Those fascinated by the more ghoulish side of history will love these significant spots from fiction, and real life.