September 01, 2008

The Museum of Russian Art

It started out as business. Then it became personal. 

In the late 1980s, Raymond E. Johnson, who owned a string of galleries dealing in American realism, looked to Russian art as something that might appeal to U.S. collectors. Encouraged by the findings of a team of American art historians and curatorial advisors he dispatched to the Soviet Union in 1989, Johnson began acquiring Socialist Realist paintings for his business, and found that there was a real U.S. market for the art.

Johnson became personally taken with the work as well, and started purchasing it in 1991 for himself and his wife, Susan. Today, the Johnsons have amassed a private collection of Soviet art believed to be the largest of its kind outside the former Soviet Union. The collection is still growing, and currently numbers some 12,000 works, mainly devoted to Socialist Realist painting but also including earlier and other examples of 19th- and 20th-century Russian realism. 

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