Leonid Bazhanov is a Russian art critic, artistic director of the National Center for Contemporary Arts (1994–2016). The archival collection, transferred to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in 2022, includes documents from three organizations, created by Leonid Bazhanov in the 1980s and 1990s — the Hermitage Amateur Association, the Center for Artistic Culture and the Center for Contemporary Art on Yakimanka.
“Hermitage”, the first official amateur association of artists of the Soviet underground, was registered in 1986 and existed until the beginning of 1988. During this time, the association has held more than ten exhibitions. Among them are group shows “Modern Art Culture”, “Dwelling”, “Retrospection”, etc., personal displays of works by Ivan Chuikov, Eduard Steinberg, Pavel Saltzman, etc. The members of the association considered their activities as a practical laboratory that overcomes shop boundaries. The archive contains documents on the organizational activities of the association, materials for the exhibitions` preparation, correspondence with various official institutions, photographs, articles about exhibitions and about the association.
The Center of Artistic Culture (CAC) was founded on November 18, 1988 under the auspices of the Soviet Committee for the Protection of Peace and the club “Travels in Defense of Peace and Nature”. CAC continued and developed the creative activity of the amateur association “Hermitage”. The coordination council of the Center included such well‑known art historians as Evgeny Barabanov, Marina Bessonova, Dmitry Sarabyanov, etc. Initially, it was planned to open the CAC by the USSR Union of Cinematographers or the Correspondence People's University of Arts, as it could evidenced by the letters and regulations preserved in the archive. The archive also contains documents of a few exhibitions that were realized in the late 1980s.
The Yakimanka Center for Contemporary Art (CCA) was opened in 1990, its activities were led by a coordinating council, which included well‑known art historians, art critics, artists and architects. Alexander Chekmarev became the director of the association, and Leonid Bazhanov became the artistic director, and then he was replaced by Viktor Misiano in 1993. Several galleries were founded by the CCA and worked on its territory. According to the organizers, each gallery should have had its own specialization: photography (the “School” gallery), video art (the “TV” gallery), naive art (the “Gift"gallery), figurative painting (the “20” gallery), abstract painting (the “Hermitage” gallery), etc. Documents of this part of the archive can be divided into two large groups: materials on administrative issues and materials of creative projects of galleries that were part of the CCA. A significant part of the documents are newspaper and magazine reviews of exhibitions, performances and art events, photographs, catalogs, invitations, press releases, leaflets, postcards, posters, many of them with autographs of artists and curators.
Leonid Aleksandrovich Bazhanov (born 1945, Moscow) is an art critic and curator, a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA), the Russian Academy of Arts, the Association of Art Critics (Russia), an Honored Worker of Culture of the Russian Federation, a laureate of the “Innovation” State Prize in the field of contemporary art for his contribution to the contemporary art development. He graduated from the Department of Art History of the Faculty of History of the Lomonosov Moscow State University and went on to work in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, the Kremlin Museums, the board of the Union of Artists of the USSR, Moscow Central Exhibition Hall (the Manege), and the publisher Sovetskii khudozhnik (Soviet Artist). He made paintings and was a participant and organizer of unofficial exhibitions in Moscow, as well as filming documentaries. In the late 1980s he founded a number of art organizations: the amateur Hermitage Association, the Center for Artistic Culture, and the Center for Contemporary Art on Yakimanka. Bazhanov participated in the creation and work of other art institutions, headed the fine arts committee of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, and was artistic director of the National Center for Contemporary Arts. He is also the author of essays on the history, theory, and practice of contemporary art in Russia and abroad. He lives and works in Moscow.