“…For Faberge envy”

Yet ten years ago a stone carving plastic has been a rare guest at jewelry salons. Nowdays difficult figures and elegant flower compositions with increasing frequency are embellish windows of upmarket shops. But what we can see there is just a little bit of Russian stone carving sculptors artworks. Nobody could name the right numbers but specialists are sure there are made no less than century of foreign stone cutting artworks just in one Saint Petersburg city.

Exactly from Saint Petersburg is logical to start a discourse about modern Russian stone curving business. Just in that spot had been started Russian stone curving school rebirth at the end of 80th year’s last century. There were facts which had been described by Soviet press. The famous “Monastirsky case” uncovered an overwater part of “black” antique market. Products that were carving “in the kitchen”, underground they were gone to foreign countries and to collectors under the Faberge mark but they had been just approximate copies of his artworks. Otherwise at that time hadn’t been can because Faberge’s catalogs were a big rarity. In order for to do the good copy you need a good picture of original artwork at least not to speak of prorated quality of carving. However at that time in the stone carving genre had started to work bright and original artists Vasilii Klochkov and Pavel Potehin.

At the end of 80th flooded previously inaccessible information to the country. Everyone who had interested in a genre of stone curving sculpture started actively to work with that. And in Saint Petersburg had emerged several workshop-studies at once. The beginning of 90th had been the time of lost profession rebirth. In the meantime there had been forming a stone curving business. Costumers become to buy artworks had knowing that their authors were not Faberge firm masters but their authors were modern stonecutters. The leader of “The Plastic in a stone” Alexandr Levental telling that first workshop collection from seven animalistic figures was bought in one piece and at once. However this was an early to speak about a formed business. General level of artworks weren’t high; the overwhelming majority was just imitation to Faberge. The trailblazing experiments end with a lucky rarely.

The true flight shoot of stone curving art as a true interest for it happened in 1996. That was provoked by two facts. There was an exhibition which dedicated 150 years old of Faberge. That exhibition for the first time had showed in fine feather the famous jeweler’s art and had generated lots of buzz about everything that connected with his artworks. Saint Petersburg exhibition “The world of stone” opened artworks of Sergey Shimanski and Alexandr Kornilov to general public of connoisseurs. The characters in stone of the cat that lying blasé on a pillow, the photographer who is dandy, the clown on a dandelion and many others bright new characters were conquered spectators. Since that any significant jewelry competition has a stone curving nomination and there are well deserved pretenders on that nomination too.

It’s reputed a chaotic market had formed in 1996 year at last. There were defined the theme of artworks: animalistic, floristic, polychrome, applied art and author’s sculpture. There was appeared stable and general cycle of customers. Just the fact, Sergey Shimanski and Alexander Kornilov made about 300 artworks then they had been working together in “School of stone curving art”. In Saint Petersburg at that time in that genre was working more than hundred artists at all. According to Alexander Levental estimate from 1995 to 2000 year had been made no less than thousands of floristic artworks and approximately the same numbers of animalistic artworks: hippopotamus, elephants, bears and different breed of dogs.

“Certainly Shimanski and Kornilov together played a big role in the rise of that business, – speaks Sergey Falkin, “Bagulnik” (Labrador tea) workshop founder. – They made a lot of interesting and quality artworks, especially, floristic bouquets. Notably they didn’t afraid to bring their own view at that commercial theme of a stone curving art. Their artworks served for every other professionals as a stimulation for they own works and as an indicator of their works quality at the same time. But for them a stone curving floristic was in cowberry–raspberry style of works like that was under Faberge”.

Sergey Falkin have founded his workshop at the end of 90th. In his asset there was a work in amber workshops of Tsarskoye Selo, an experience of organization his own production and authors ambitions. Like no over else Falkin had known: before represent yourself you need to make money. And money was brought by clients. But orientation of clients was only to Faberge that time of life.

“We choose models just over by cut and try method, – Sergey Alexandrovich tells. – We were traveled around exhibitions, researched “Cristy” and “Sotbis” catalogs and rarely publication in professional press”.

“Bagulnik” maybe the singular Russian company which has a stone carving artworks catalog since 2000 year. Then you are thumbing that catalog you can see that modern stone curving professionals left behind a working level of Faberge. No fine art experts and no artist don’t’ argue with that statement nowdays. At the “Bagulnik” catalog Faberges’ replicas there are among near 800 things. Those things are at the company collection up to now. For example, the famous trunk box from nephrite. This is like a selection of a professional showpiece of square corners which made from one nephrite piece. And there is an elegant paper-knife with garnets like a classical adornment for an interior. However even in classics there have been appearing new ways.

“At the great degree us has push to that a market, – says Sergey Falkin. – Even these customers who has orientation only to classics and got things like these has been asking us to brought new elements into those classical things. For example, many clients take a special value to flacons in floristic compositions. Further in 2001-2002 years I had invented a thistle in a strike “gothic” flacon with silver and had a rose in sand-glass. Nowdays we make a rose in curving flacon from obsidian and quartz, a poppy on a stand with enamel. There is working a floristic artist in workshop who even and develop new floristic compositions”.

There has been special noticed author’s way in a stone curving art last years. In which way, besides Sergey Shimanski and Sergey Falkin, were appeared such bright names like Anton Ananiev, Alexander Veselovski, Vladimir Putrin and others. That works exactly attention viewers at exhibitions and become the object of fine art experts’ disputes. But proportion of that works sale against with sale of commercial stone curving work is a small. According to Alexander Levental estimate, nowadays a strong demand has polychrome sculptures from different breed of stones. And floristic composition has like the top and nominal well praised present.

The most part of clients first think about their investment when they are buying curving things. And they do right choice because prices to those things have the uptrend. Demonstrative customers had been oriented to a price of stone at the end of 90-ths yet. There had been some kind of mode to obsidian, smoky quartz and nephrite. And nowadays shaping factors are quality of work and quality of art form of that work. Connoisseurs with a lot of experience already haven’t asked a question why there is a different price to analogue artworks. One of that artwork made in the serious workshop there is an artist-sculpture supervising process of work. The other artwork made at home using whatever was available. And the third one brought from China in all. They know that it is a material factor which influences over quality of an artwork. Today just in Saint Petersburg the number of people who doing curving on stone have increased to 400 people. And not all of them have been attaining the maximal altitude in profession.

Today as practice shows curving things most commonly are getting like kudos elements and investment or like expensive and rare present which shows special attitude to someone. As rule such clients has become standing customers. Notably such presents did as private actors as big company which has a present fund. And there has been also a category of spontaneous customers who possible hadn’t heard anything about curving art before they first came to exhibition or to workshop. Frequently they are attracting to a congenial topic. For example, one of “Bagulnik” client has collected forest berries. Other one had been ordering over the time of figures of African animals. There are people who become fans to one or few authors and that people are buying their artworks periodically.

I should notice that stone curving artworks are sale in workshops or on exhibitions in most cases. There are a small part of them which get in art or jewelry salons. And there are some factors which explain that. First factor is economical. It’s not unusual that commercial organizations work up percent and do an art thing is unsalable. The second factor applies to professional completion. Stone curving things required a special preparation and a high qualification but sales assistants of jewelry shops have those skills not often. Probably, that problem could solved a one special salon in which there would be author’s works and commercial works, and artworks by Ural school of curving stone because that school has an own specific. Time shows would have been found that kind of person or company who got such as difficult as financial capacious deal in Saint Petersburg or Moscow. Meanwhile researches and fine art experts united in one thing that the business of stone curving art would be develop.

Author Olga Rogozina

“Navigator uvelirnoy torgovly” (The Jewelry business navigator), November/2007

Translator Vera Badalyan