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Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan Collections
The Bakhchanyan collections consist of four parts.
The first part includes 401 drawings of Joseph Stalin. This unique collection was conceived by Vagrich Bakhchanyan in 1979 in conjunction with the one-hundredth anniversary of Stalin's birth. During ensuing years, Bakhchanyan gathered several hundred original portrait drawings of the Soviet dictator by leading Russian and émigré artists, writers, and cultural figures, including the Nobel laureate poet Joseph Brodsky, the sculptor Ernst Neizvestnyi, painters Ilya Kabakov, Mikhail Shemiakin, and Mikhail Grobman, writers Sergei Dovlatov, Eduard Limonov, Alexander Genis, and Petr Vail, and numerous other personalities. Most drawings were created on the spot, on small pieces of paper, even napkins, in ink or pencil, during various parties and gatherings. This series is organized alphabetically by the artist's last name.
The second part of the Bakhchanyan collections consists of the personal papers of Eduard Limonov. Limonov, a long-time friend of Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan, is a well-known Russian and émigré writer and poet. More recently, he has been a leading political opposition figure in the Russian Federation. Limonov's papers reflect the early years of his life in the United States (1974-1980), when, as a struggling émigré, he wrote his first and most famous novel, It's Me, Eddie: A Fictional Memoir (Russian edition 1977, French translation 1980; English edition 1983). This series consists of 362 items. Literary and poetry manuscripts arranged by title comprise the greater part of the papers. Limonov composed most of these materials while living in New York City; however, this series also includes notebooks that he kept while still living in the Soviet Union. Beyond these manuscripts, the papers also feature correspondence with other artists and institutions (organized by correspondent), along with several unpublished photographs and works of art.
The third part of the Bakhchanyan collections consists of items related to the International Mail Art Movement that Bakhchanyan was significantly involved in during the 1980s. Mail Art was an alternative movement that renounced the standards and tastes of mainstream art by seeking new and more direct channels of distribution among artists that could be more international in scope, more varied in aesthetics, and more egalitarian in exhibition and publication practices. The series spans from 1979 to 2006 and consists of over 500 items, separated into four subseries. Original mail art items received by Bakhchanyan from other artists are arranged by sender's surname and by date (folders 540-902). Mail art periodicals are arranged by title and issue (folders 903-929). Exhibition materials such as calls for submissions, posters and catalogs, as well as museum correspondence, are arranged by exhibition title or institution name where appropriate (folders 930-1009). Correspondence from Vladimir Kotliarov (aka "Tolsty"), a Russian painter, mail art and performance artist living in Paris, is arranged by date (folders 1010-1057). Together Bakhchanyan and Tolsty edited Muleta, the journal of contemporary Russian arts and letters.
The fourth part of the Bakhchanyan collections consists of the papers of Vagrich and Irene Bakhchanyan. This series includes correspondence, as well as materials from Bakhchanyan's library, visual ephemera, and photographs.