Show to Feature Russian Art

Show to Feature Russian Art

By Rosanne Pellegrini
Staff Writer

The efforts of Russian artists to enjoy aesthetic and intellectual expression under post-World War II Communist rule is the subject of a forthcoming exhibition at the McMullen Museum of Art.

"Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde," which runs from Oct. 15-Dec. 10, includes more than 70 paintings, sculptures, photographs and works on paper selected from one of the largest private collections of unofficial Russian art. "Forbidden Art" examines the underground styles and movements that sought self-expression in a period of oppressive Soviet policies, according to exhibition organizers.

"The McMullen Museum is pleased to host this first exhibition of unofficial Russian art in the Boston area, especially because there are many recent Russian émigrés living in the area surrounding the University," said McMullen Museum Director Nancy Netzer. "We hope to welcome them to our campus and to share this little-known aspect of their culture with our University and local audiences."

To mark the exhibition's opening, a reception will be held at the museum on Sunday, Oct. 15, from 2-5 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a talk by Assoc. Prof. Roberta Manning (History) on "The Half Open Door: Soviet Society and Culture after Stalin."

The exhibition is drawn from the private collection of Yuri Traisman, a Russian émigré who has spent nearly three decades collecting unofficial and émigré art by Russian artists. According to organizers, the range of artists, styles and movements represented in "Forbidden Art" offers an extraordinary point of departure for discussions of what is sometimes called the "Second Russian Avant-Garde."

During the period traced by the exhibition - from the mid-1950s to the beginnings of glasnost in the 1980s - Soviet artists had to struggle to maintain their freedom, organizers say. But despite official censorship and the risk of unemployment or imprisonment for defiance, the artists were able to develop avant-garde traditions through use of abstraction, conceptualism, media critique and complex forms of realism.

Although the term "nonconformist" is widely used to describe art of the era that rejected political and cultural norms, organizers note that "nonconformist," "dissident," "alternative," "official," and "unofficial" all have their place in discussions of the relationship of the artist to the state, to Soviet-era culture and to other artists.

Among the featured artists are Grisha Bruskin, Eric Bulatov, Ilya Kabakov, Mikhail Chemiakin, Komar and Melamid, Leonid Lamm, Tatiana Nazarenko, Natalia Nesterova, Ernst Neizvestny, Leonid Purygin, Oscar Rabin and Oleg Vassiliev.

"Mask and Hand," by Ernst Neizvestny, will be one of the works showcased at the McMullen Museum's "Forbidden Art" exhibition.

An exhibition catalogue, which includes essays and more than 200 illustrations, is available at the Boston College Bookstore. In addition, a number of educational programs including lectures and musical programs, which are free and open to the public, will accompany the exhibition.

These events include the lecture "Jewish Identity, the Soviet Avant-Garde and the Limits of Assimilation," by Asst. Prof. Maxim D. Shrayer (Slavic and Eastern Languages), on Thursday, Oct. 19, at 7:30 p.m. [see separate story]. Tatyana Sizonenko, curator of the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, will give a talk on Oct. 26, at 4 p.m., and Assoc. Prof. Cynthia Simmons (Slavic and Eastern Languages) will present "All Gone: Communism and Childhood Undone" on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m.

Shrayer also will serve as moderator for the annual Michael B. Kreps Memorial Readings on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7:30 p.m., which spotlights contemporary Russian émigré writers.

All the above events will take place in Devlin 101.

For more information, call the Arts Line at ext.2-8100, or visit the Web site at /artmuseum.


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