Art: Out of Russia's Apron

The cultural-exchange show is a device with a long history. It originated with tribute—the bales of silk and beads, the slaves, parrots and bejeweled objects that envoys dragged into the foreign potentate's throne room as diplomatic lubricant. Over the centuries, gift became ritualized into loan. A cultural-exchange program has been part of U.S.-Soviet affairs for the past 13 years now, and whatever its actual effects on Realpolitik may be, the process is a harmless and edifying one. The latest manifestation of it is a huge compendium called "Soviet Union: Arts and Crafts in...

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