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Making Modernism Soviet

The Russian Avant-Garde in the Early Soviet Era, 1918-1928

Pamela Kachurin

Publication Year: 2013

Making Modernism Soviet provides a new understanding of the ideological engagement of Russian modern artists such as Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko, and Vera Ermolaeva with the political and social agenda of the Bolsheviks in the chaotic years immediately following the Russian Revolution. Focusing on the relationship between power brokers and cultural institutions under conditions of state patronage, Pamela Kachurin lays to rest the myth of the imposition of control from above upon a victimized artistic community. Drawing on extensive archival research, she shows that Russian modernists used their positions within the expanding Soviet arts bureaucracy to build up networks of like-minded colleagues. Their commitment to one another and to the task of creating a socially transformative visual language for the new Soviet context allowed them to produce some of their most famous works of art. But it also contributed to the "Sovietization" of the art world that eventually sealed their fate.

Published by: Northwestern University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

List of Tables

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pp. xi-xii

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pp. xiii-xiv

This book is a substantially revised version of my doctoral dissertation, completed in 1998. My appraisal of the relationship between the modern artists under consideration in this book and the increasingly repressive “state” apparatus has evolved considerably. ...


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pp. xv-xvi

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pp. xvii-xxiv

During the first quarter of the twentieth century, at the very start of the Soviet experiment in social engineering and cultural revolution, many members of Russia’s historic “avant-garde”—Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Natan Al’tman, David Shterenberg, Alexander Rodchenko, and Vassily Kandinsky—went to work for the Bolsheviks, ...

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Chapter One: The Great Experiment: The Moscow Museum of Painterly Culture, 1918-1928

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pp. 3-36

This chapter provides the first comprehensive, archive-based history of the Moscow Museum of Painterly Culture (Muzei zhivopisnoi kul’tury, hereafter, MZhK)—a unique Soviet institution that was created in 1918 as a repository for the work of all living Russian artists, but that quickly became the de facto home to artists devoted to modernist experimentation within a socialist context.1 ...

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Chapter Two: The Center of Artistic Life: The People's School of Art in Vitebsk, 1919-1923

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pp. 37-70

It is well known that for a brief but incandescent moment in the history of Russian modernism, the People’s School of Art (Narodnoe khudozhestvennoe uchilishche) in Vitebsk,1 a provincial city on the far western boundary of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR),2 became the institutional home to such luminaries as Marc Chagall, El Lissitzky, and Kazimir Malevich. ...

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Chapter Three: The Last Citadel: The Petrograd Museum of Artistic Culture and GINKhUK, 1919-1926

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pp. 71-98

There is no dearth of studies devoted to the Petrograd Museum of Artistic Culture (Muzei khudozhestvennoi kul’tury) or its more famous successor, the State Institute of Artistic Culture (Gosudarstvenny institut khudozhestvennoi kul’tury).1 Previous works have established the basic chronology of this organization’s evolution from art museum to research institute, ...

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pp. 99-106

In May 1929, upon learning that his administrative position at the State Institute of the History of Art was in serious jeopardy, Kazimir Malevich sent an urgent letter of appeal to Alexei Svidersky (1878– 1933), a career party and state official who was the new director of the Main Arts Administration (Glaviskusstvo).1 ...


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pp. 107-128


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pp. 129-138


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pp. 139-146

E-ISBN-13: 9780810167261
E-ISBN-10: 0810167263
Print-ISBN-13: 9780810129283
Print-ISBN-10: 0810167263

Page Count: 144
Illustrations: 12 b/w
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1