Desert of Forbidden Art


Desert of Forbidden Art (2010)

Director: Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgievt

Synopsis: This PBS Independent Lens documentary chronicles artist Igor
Savitsky’s Soviet-era efforts to save 40.000 pieces of art judged to be
subversive by the Communist Party. Under the guise of collecting approved
works, he managed to create a museum in the desert of Karakalpakstan,
Uzbekistan, filled with works that became one of the greatest collections
20th Century Russian art. He financed the project with money he actually
got from the Soviets by pretending to buy State-approved art. It also
documents the work of a group of Avant-Garde arts who settled in the
region following the Revolution in 1917 and created there a unique new
school of Russian art fusing modernism with Eastern tradition and Islamic

Review: This is an important documentary because it chronicles the
fearless work of a dedicated man who had the vision and the guts to go
against Soviet censorship. But it also documents art works still at great
risk because of corruption, art profiteering and potential destruction by
radical Islamists.

The film beautifully combines archival footage with material from letters
and diaries of Savitsky, some of the artists themselves and their
children. The voices are performed by Ben Kingsley, Sally Field and Ed

This film is a must-see for anyone interested in art.



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