SOVIET UNION: Ars Brevis for a Soviet Painter

The one-man art exhibition was backed by the weightiest cultural authorities in the Soviet Union. Diplomats, journalists, art experts and lovers of Soviet culture were all panting to attend. Yet when 200 invited guests turned up last week at Moscow's House of the Artist near the Kremlin, they found a 6-in. brass padlock on the door. Uniformed Soviet police turned back the crowd, while loudspeakers broadcast commands to clear the street.

A showcase exhibition for one of Moscow's best-known painters had turned into an embarrassing clash between the artist and the state. Ilya...

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