November 01, 2011

Elephantine Ambitions

Elephantine Ambitions

"'Cool,' the young people say, ‘It's Saddam and Madonna."

Mina Litinsky, proprietor of the Sloane Gallery, recounts the mistaken identifications some young visitors made of a painting she had on display — Leonid Sokov's Marilyn and Stalin. The two twentieth century icons embrace, Monroe looking Warholesque, Stalin in caricature, grinning as only Arthur Miller or Joe DiMaggio could have understood. It is a signature work by an artist who is in the permanent collections of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Australia National Gallery, and the Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin Museum in Moscow, among others.

But this is not New York or Moscow. The Sloane Gallery is just off tony Wynkoop Street in the shadow of Denver's restored beaux arts Union Station. Something of a local institution, the Sloane deals exclusively in contemporary Russian art and has been open for 30 years in what can be a capricious business.

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