Art: From Russia with Abstraction

In Los Angeles, a fresh view of a vanished avant-garde

In many ways, Russian art around the time of the Revolution of 1917 was the supreme model of avant-garde activity. It was consciously radical and hopeful. The artists hoped for the collapse of the old and saw themselves as collective makers of the new. Radical politics and radical art, for once, went hand in hand.

The disappointment was as great as the hope. By 1930, Stalinist terror had set out to destroy all that was best in the visual culture of Russia: painting, sculpture, design,...

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