Art: Russia's Great Flowering

A huge show surveys the heady moment early in the century when radical art became the house style of a political revolution

THE GREAT UTOPIA: THE Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932," the Guggenheim Museum's huge show of Russian art before, during and immediately after the 1917 Revolution, is meant to be received with extreme piety. These artists, all dead, now have a world audience they could only have dreamed of fitfully when they were alive. We gaze at their frail icons with reverence -- the replays of French Cubism with sturgeons, Cyrillic letters and Tolstoyan beards playing hide-and-seek among their facets; the posters exhorting us to "Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge"; the constructions of workers' materials like tin and rope and...

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