MOSCOW, February 1 (RIA Novosti) - A new art reference and price guide, "DAR. Russian Visual Arts: Avant-Garde through Modern Day," has just been unveiled in Moscow, the Russian daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta reports. This is the first publication to attempt fair valuation of artwork available for sale on the Russian market.

DAR is intended as an annual edition, one that will offer updated biographical and price information on Russian artists. Its Italian producers, Nicola Savoretti and Marta Boeri, have invited competent local experts to collaborate on the project.

Greater uniformity of Russian artwork prices will be especially good news to Western dealers. There have been wild price fluctuations on Russia's art market ever since the outset of the perestroika era. All things Russian then came into vogue in the West and the prices of Russian artwork skyrocketed. The auction staged by Sotheby's in Moscow in 1988 famously sent the prices to exorbitant levels. Artworks were taken out of Russia in great numbers in those days. But demand for Russian art eventually subsided and Western dealers and collectors incurred huge losses, as a result. Now, many of them just won't take the risk of buying anything from Russian artists unless there is a price guide to consult.

"We have been oriented primarily toward the American art market, as the most developed one. We provide detailed profiles of artists and say if their works are part of major collections," said Ms. Boeri, the project's curator. DAR, available in a Russian and an English versions, is to be unveiled in Paris this next March and in New York, in April. The first edition has been released in 5,000 copies, and the curator is certain it will sell out before long.

Subsequent editions of DAR will be paying more attention to art personalities from Russia's Far East and Siberia, Ms. Boeri promised.

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