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The New Artists and the Mayakovsky Friends Club (1986-1990)

Text: Hannelore Fobo, 2021
Chapter 18. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in the USA, 1989-1990
previous page: Chapter 17. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in Europe, 1988-1989
next page: Chapter 19. Concluding remarks
Table of contents: see bottom of page >>



Chapter 18. America

In New York, “The New Artists. Members of the Club of Friends of Vladimir Mayakovsky”, this overlong monstrosity of a word, was finally shortened to Friends of Mayakovsky Club, completed with the attribute Leningrad U.S.S.R. Paul Judelson organised two such exhibitions at his flat, in May 1989 – together with Sergei Bugaev – and in 1990, under the new name Paul Judelson Arts. With these exhibitions, Judelson started his career as an art dealer, and in 1997, he opened the I-20 Gallery in Chelsea (closed in 2012), where the focus was on United States artists External link >>.

In her autobiography Red Wave from 2020, co-authored with her daughter Madison Stingray, Joanna Stingray remembers how Paul Judelson first met with Sergei Bugaev at the exhibition "New Art from Leningrad” at the Sawtelle Gallery, Los Angeles. It was Stingray’s second exhibition with works of her collection of Leningrad artists, after "Red Wave” at the Jerry Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles (28 January-5 February, 1988), which continued to the Stock Exchange, Los Angeles on 7 April 1988,


"New Art from Leningrad",
presented by Joanna Stingray & Red Wave at the Sawtelle Gallery, Los Angeles,March 18 through April 16, 1989.
Invitation card, verso with lineup of artists: Afrika Bugaev, Gustav Guryanov, Andrei Khlobuistin, Maya Khlobuistin, Oleg Kotelnikov, Eugeney Kozlov, Andrei Krisanov, Andrei Medvedev, Timur Novikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Inal Savchenkov, Ivan Sotnikov, Viktor Tsoi.
Courtesy Joanna Stingray.




The Sawtelle Gallery invitation card informs us that the exhibition of invitation card took place from 18 March to 16 April 1989. However, "New Art from Leningrad” consisted not only of works from Stingray’s collection since, as Stingray writes:

    Sergei Bugaev (Afrika) landed in Los Angeles a day before the exhibit and somehow managed to design and install a number of last-minute pieces…I spent the evening eavesdropping on Afrika‘s stories and doing sales for the paintings. Since I had spent a fortune on all framing and preparation for the event, I decided to sell artwork as a way to pay my parents back for their help. A guy from New York named Paul Judelson became very interested in Afrika and Timur and bought a number of pieces. Not long after, he opend a gallery in The Big Apple.[1]




The lineup of artists at the Sawtelle Gallery had (as written in the invitation) Afrika Bugaev, Gustav Guryanov, Andrei Khlobuistin, Maya Khlobuistin, Oleg Kotelnikov, Eugeney Kozlov, Andrei Krisanov, Andrei Medvedev, Timur Novikov, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Inal Savchenkov, Ivan Sotnikov, and Viktor Tsoi.

The lineup of artists for The First North American Exhibition of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club, Leningrad U.S.S.R., which opened in New York on 1 May 1989 (two weeks after "New Art from Leningrad” closed at the Sawtelle Gallery), was almost identical. It was presented by “Sergei Bugaev (‘Africa’), Artist and Paul Alan Judelson, Curator".

Andrey Khlobystin sent me Paul Judelson’s list of artists and works displayed. I kept the order and spelling of artist names and added the respective number of works in brackets:

    Yevgeny Kozlov (3) Giorgi Gurianov (1), Yevgeny Ufet [Yufit] (3) Eno Savchenko [Inal Svachenkov] (3), Sergei Bugaev (“Afrika”) (20), Vadim Ovchinnikov (3), Kuzim Maslov [Alexei Kozin and Oleg Maslov] (4), Timur Novikov (5), Andrei Khlobystin (8), Victor Tsoi (2), Boris Koshelohov (1). A last work, No. 54, a “Portrait of Leonid Brezhnev" was presented as a work by “The Friends of Mayakovsky Club (wth Soviet agitprop workers). [2]

The First North American Exhibition of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club, Leningrad U.S.S.R. Sergei Bugaev (‘Africa’), Artist and Paul Alan Judelson, Curator. May 1, 1989, New York Artists: Evgenij Kozlov, Georgy Guryanov, Yevgeny Yufit, Inal Savchenkov, Sergei Bugaev ("Afrika”), Vadim Ovchinnikov, Aleksei Kozin and Oleg Maslov, Timur Novikov, Andrey Khlobystin, Victor Tsoy, Boris Koshelokhov

The First North American Exhibition of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club, Leningrad U.S.S.R.
Sergei Bugaev (‘Africa’), Artist and Paul Alan Judelson, Curator. May 1, 1989, New York
Artists: Evgenij Kozlov, Georgy Guryanov, Yevgeny Yufit, Inal Savchenkov, Sergei Bugaev ("Afrika”), Vadim Ovchinnikov, Aleksei Kozin and Oleg Maslov, Timur Novikov, Andrey Khlobystin, Victor Tsoy, Boris Koshelokhov




Тhere was actually a link from the The first North American Exhibition of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club, to "Perestroika in the Avant-Garde” at the Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, which ended on 4 February 1989. I wrote about it in my article about the Liverpool festival:

    Regarding the exhibits at the Bluecoat Gallery, things started getting confused after the end of the Liverpool exhibition. According to Fredrik Vogel, Sergei Bugaev did not want him ‘to represent the group of artists any more‘ (letter to me on 7 April 1993). Bugaev took some works to art-dealer Paul Judelson to New York, among them three large paintings by Kozlov.” more>>

(E-E) Evgenij Kozov, from left to right: –ú–ò–† (–õ. –ù. –¢–æ–ª—Å—Ç–æ–π) / The World (Lev Tolstoy), Mixed media on canvas, approx. 170 x 110 cm, 1988 Anna Karenina 2, Mixed media on canvas, approx. 200 x 145 cm, 1988 Anna Karenina 1, Mixed media on canvas, 215 x 149 cm, 1988 Perestroika in the Avant-Garde, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, 21 January-4 February 1989 more>>  Photo: courtesy Bluecoat Gallery

(E-E) Evgenij Kozov, from left to right:
МИР (Л. Н. Толстой) / The World (Lev Tolstoy), Mixed media on canvas, approx. 170 x 110 cm, 1988
Anna Karenina 2, Mixed media on canvas, approx. 200 x 145 cm, 1988
Anna Karenina 1, Mixed media on canvas, 215 x 149 cm, 1988
Perestroika in the Avant-Garde, Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, 21 January-4 February 1989 more>>

Photo: courtesy Bluecoat Gallery




The three paintings in question were Anna Karenina I, Anna Karenina II and M.I.R., a portrait of Tolstoy. Following Stingray’s account, the above quote should be slightly corrected: Sergei Bugaev took the works to the USA where he met with Paul Judelson. In May 1989, at The First North American Exhibition of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club, Judelson presented them as Kozlov’s tryptich “Peace”.

While a number of those "New York” works might indeed have been acquired from Joanna Stingray’s collection, Judelson’s list assigns all exhibits to another Liverpool exhibition: "as seen at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool” which stand in obvious contradiction to the fact that Kozlov’s so-called triptych “Peace” was at the Bluecoat Gallery, not at Tate, but it is not the only contradiction.

The Tate exhibition, the so-called Exhibition of Banners”, ran parallel to the one at the Bluecoat Gallery. It lasted from 28 January – 5 February 1989 and was arranged to highlight Novikov's lecture on 1 February 1989 more>>. The chronicle (p. 279) refers to it as “January – February. Tate Livepool. Timur Novikov & Afrika.”

Therefore, if the The first North American Exhibition of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club showed eleven artists, it is not very likely that their works were all seen at the Tate Gallery which, it appears, showed only two artists.

In fact, the “Exhibition of Banners” had a least one work by another artist, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov’s large “banner” CCCP from 1987 (which remained in Liverpool after the exhibition). CCCP was one of several of Kozlov’s works arriving from Sweden at the Bluecoat Gallery, Liverpool, among them the so-called triptych "Peace". Most like because of its size, CCCP was not displayed at the Bluecoat Gallery and went to the Tate Gallery instead. It is possible that Novikov and Bugaev, who brought their works for Tate directly from Leningrad, included works by some other artists, too. "As seen at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool” is, however, grossly overstated, although it defintely added some glamour. Khlobystin writes that John Cage visited the exhibition, as well as some people from Andy Warhol’s magazine Interview. (Khlobystin, Schizorevolution, p. 114)

Apart from his engagement in setting up the exhibtion, Bugaev obviously also determined its title. Since he continued presenting himself abroad as the chairman of the Friends of Mayakovsky Club – for instance, in the London catalogue, 1988 – it automatically made him the authorised spokesman for his fellow artists. Therefore Bugaev‘s role in the exhibition was decisive in many respects.

After the exhibtion, Paul Judelson got to know a number of Leningrad artists personally and invited them to New York.


Artists from Leningrad at Paul Judelson Art, New York, 5 March 1990
From left to right
Alla Mitrofanova, Marta Volkova, Vadim Ovchinnikov, Andrei Khlobystin (standing), Timur Novikov, Irena Kuksenaite, Sergei Bugaev
Art: Left: (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, M.I.R. (Portrait of Tolstoy), 1988
Right: Textile compostion by Sergei Bugaev
Paul Judelson Arts, New York, 11 March 1990

Courtesy Andrey Khlobystin


Andrey Khlobystin and Paul A. Judelson in front of Khlobystin‘s work
Paul Judelson Arts, New York, 11 March 1990

Courtesy Andrey Khlobystin



In Andrey Khlobystin’s archive, there are a number of photographs taken at Paul Judelson‘s flat in March 1990, some weeks before Judelson opened The Friends of Mayakovsky Club Leningrad USSR, Exhibtion II in May 1990. The walls look indeed like those of a gallery, and Khlobystin told me that Judelson constantly exchanged some of the works for others. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of the display from May 1990, but there is another list of artists and their works.

This time, the lineup was shorter, but with 55 works, the number of works was equally impressive: Sergei Bugaev (“Afrika”) (12) Timur Novikov (8), Giorgi Gurianov (3) Yevgeny Kozlov (2), Yevgeny Ufet [Yufit] (1), Andrey Khlobystin (29). Just as impressive is the list of celebreteis who visited the show: “Richard Gere, Catherine Deneuve, Milos Forman, Bruno Bischofberger, Nam June Paik, and many others". (Khlobystin, Shizorevolution, p. 114)


The Friends of Mayakovsky Club Leningrad USSR, Exhibtion II. May 1990.
Paul Judelson Arts, New York
Artists: Sergei Bugaev ("Afrika”), Timur Novikov, Georgy Guryanov, Evgenij Kozlov, Yevgeny Yufit, Andrey Khlobystin.



Unlike the year before, the 1990 exhibition was no longer depending on the availablitly of works coming from preceeding exhibitons. In early 1990, Judelson had traveled to Leningrad where he met with a number of artists, among them (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, and took their works to New York. Knowing artists and their works, he now had the possbility to create a concept for the second exhibition on his own.

Returning to the name already introduced by Bugaev in 1989 and call it “Exhibition II” made perfect sense, and also to work it out conceptually. With regard to content and technique, both Bugaev’s and Khlobystin’s works were close to Mayakovsky’s agitprop works. and their works constituted the large majority of exhibits. In essence, The Friends of Mayakovsky Club. Exhibition II follows the concept of Timur Novikov’s working plan: "Several evenings dedicated to “V.V. Maykovsky and contemporary art”. The works exhibited by the other four artists – Novikov, Gurianov, Kozlov, and Yufit – did not necessarily have to fit the concept, and regarding Kozlov's and Yufit's untitled works from 1989, I’m sure that they didn’t. It was even an asset if they didn’t, because it made the exhibition multifaceted.

If my assumption is correct that Paul Judelson related the concept of the exhibition to the name The Friends of Mayakovsky Club, then this would also explain why there was no Exhibtion III of the Mayakovsky Friends Club in New York – the concept cannot be developed much further. You cannot ask the same group of artists to paint "Mayakovskian" works year after year and keep the interest of collectors alive, especially when, after a peak in the late 1980s, the general interest in Soviet art waned. After 1990, Judelson continued working individually with some of the Russian artists, in the first place with Sergei Bugaev.


[1] Joanna Stingray & Madison Stingray. Red Wave, Doppelhouse Press, Los Angeles, USA, 2020, pp. 266-267.

[2] The New Artists chronicle, p. 280, also lists Vyacheslav Shevelenko but does not include Alexei Kozin.

Synopsis and Introduction

Chаpter 1. Soviet Clubs and Houses of Culture

Chapter 2. Chapter 2. Vladimir Vladimirovich Mayakovsky

Chapter 3: Source material and references

Chapter 4. Index of documents 1986-1987

Chapter 5. Document A. Charter of the New Creative Association

Chapter 6. Document B. Application by the New Creative Association, 4. 8. 1986

Chapter 7. Document C. Application by the New Creative Association, 5. 8. 1986

Chapter 8. Document D. Front page of the Mayakovsky Friends Club charter, 3. 9. 1986

Chapter 9. Document E. Registration card for young associations

Chapter 10. Document F. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Working plan for 1986-1987

Chapter 11. Document G. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Invitation card, 21. 12. 1986

Chapter 12. Document H. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Report about the first year (Sept.86-Sep. 87)

Chapter 13. The Report about the first year and corresponding New Artists chronicle entries

Chapter 14. Document I. Mayakovsky Friends Club. Application to the Main Department of Culture 1987

Chapter 15. The Nch-Vch Club

Chapter 16. The Mayakovsky Friends Club Party 1990

Chapter 17. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in Europe, 1988-1989

Chapter 18. The Mayakovsky Friends Club in the USA, 1989-1990

Chapter 19. Concluding remarks


Research / text / layout: Hannelore Fobo, March 2020 / August 2021

Uploaded 17 August 2021
Last updated 18 August 2021