Remote Nukus, Uzbekistan is the unlikely home to the second largest and most significant collection of Russian avant-garde in the world. Housed in the Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art, the Savitsky Collection was named after I.V. Savitsky, artist and passionate collector.
Savitsky amassed an extraordinary body of works over a fifteen year period, right through the Stalinist period, collecting from Moscow and other cities of the USSR thousands of paintings and other works by forgotten or forbidden artists. In the relatively safe haven of faraway Nukus, over a fifteen-year period, the collection grew to more than 90,000 works, forming a spectacular core for the museum, inaugurated in the 1960s. Savitsky also built a substantial collection of folk art, also housed in the museum.
I traveled to Nukus overland from Khiva, through the Kyzylkum Desert, a source of inspiration for Savitsky the artist and for the Uzbek artists he trained. Although it is possible to fly into Nukus and back to Tashkent without setting foot in the desert, it would be a shame to miss the experience!