This article considers the question of how the perception of notions of “empire” and “nation” (“imperialism” and “nationalism”), as well as the relationship between the two among members of the Russian Modernist community, informed salient aesthetic programs and practices of Russian Modernism. The first case study serves as a backdrop for the rest of the discussion. It features a narrative of Russian national revival that was proposed by art historian Adrian Prakhov and that expressed a standpoint identifiable with the official program of nationalist indoctrination. Four other case studies feature two prominent members of the World of Art group, Alexander Benois and Ivan Bilibin, and two leaders and theoreticians of Russian Symbolism, Valery Bryusov and Vyacheslav Ivanov (with the addition of Sergei Gorodetsky to the latter). The author argues that the various forms of the empire–nation relationship as imagined by artists mediated their aesthetic choices, and that one can speak of “universalist,” “imperialist-nationalist,” and “indigenous” aesthetic trends in Russian Modernism as a product of this differentiation.


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pp. 171-206
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