Today, the authentication and attribution of Russian artworks coming from the key period of 1905 – 1929 lacks clear standards. The absence of recognised protocols for technical analysis, prevalence of questionable connoisseurship, as well as shortage of serious provenance documentation, has led to a significant corruption in our understanding of this key period in Russian art. Additionally, the broad circulation of highly questionable art works has spread from being not only a commercial problem but now a profound scholarly one also. Significant numbers of false paintings have been making their way into museum collections to be reproduced in the pages of the catalogues and academic publications others rely on, in consequence profoundly distorting our views on the Russian Avant-garde.
RARP was established to encourage and advance the wider understanding of the Russian avant-garde through the scholarly application of art historical and technological research.
The Russian Avant-garde Research Project (RARP) is established as a charitable company to specifically address issues of defective scholarship. It will initiate and support technical research of works by artists of the Russian Avant-garde at the highest level of academic practice through financial support for innovative research projects. In addition, RARP will also support associated archival and art historical studies. Its primary tasks are, therefore, to establish benchmark standards of research, develop reliable new and consistent protocols for technical analysis, and support the application of novel methods to this research. RARP will not be involved in authentication issues; rather, the project will focus on research into unimpeachable artworks from both museum and private collections. It will also draw on contemporary documentary sources, many of which are little known and/or currently difficult to access. The project also aims to establish new standards for provenance research into the Russian Avant-garde. Such activity by RARP and its research projects will not only help to create a substantial corpus of accurate information but also facilitate a far better understanding of the materiality of Russian art during the period.
RARP particularly stresses the importance of multi-disciplinary approaches to research into the Russian avant-garde and its context. This is reflected in support for integrated forms of technological and art historic research, as well as the wider contextualisation of findings. RARP also actively supports the wider public dissemination of research.
In furtherance of this aim RARP makes grants to suitably qualified individuals and institutions engaged in the field so as to enable them to undertake high-quality research that may not otherwise be eligible for funding.