PoM Pontica Magna
Department of History, National Research University Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg
European University at St Petersburg and Jacobs University, Bremen
PhD Candidate (2016/2017)
As a Returning Fellow, I will be working on my monograph uncovering the unknown history of American visual art in the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
My monograph’s contribution is twofold. First, my research will be empirically valuable because it will reconstruct the previously unknown history of the unprecedentedly extensive exhibiting of American visual art in the Soviet Union. Second, my monograph will contribute to the theoretical debate on the Cold War. Challenging the dominant narratives on the Cold War as an obstacle for cultural exchange, my monograph will uncover the unique productive and constructive essence of the geopolitical conflict.
Thus, the Cold War worked as a productive force: it allowed the emergence of a unique symbolic economy with specific rules of art, which shaped the interpretations of American art. Constructing the meaning of American art according to political needs, both parties used art to represent the major ideological struggle. After all, both narratives on American art central to my monograph are essential products of the Cold War.
Paradoxically, but prior to the Cold War – with no Iron Curtain preventing free cultural exchange – the USSR hosted single exhibitions of American art, all minor in terms of aesthetical significance, attendance, and impact. However, during the Cold War – despite Soviet alienation from the West and regardless of the essential for the USSR anti-Americanism – the Soviet venues hosted dozens exhibitions introducing American art from figurative to abstract to millions of Soviet visitors. Nearly all these exhibitions remain unexplored. Basing on the unique materials from American and Russian archives, the research for the very first time examines this paradoxically extensive exhibiting and brings together in an orchestrated effort the unique historical outline of American art to the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991.