Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde

“This ambitious show, with its careful attention to trends and movements and its exposure of the whole gamut of postwar Soviet art, adds up to a surprisingly rich survey.”

– Grace Glueck, The New York Times  

“It’s one of the best collections in the world of Russian art.”

– Aleksander Borosky, curator, Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg

Forbidden Art: The Postwar Russian Avant-Garde was an exhibition that explored a fascinating period in Russian art history, when artists boldly defied aesthetic conventions imposed by state censorship.

Comprising works of painting, photography, and sculpture from the collection of Yuri Traisman, a Russian émigré, Forbidden Art dispels the notion that Russia was artistically infertile under the repressive rule of the Stalinist state. Traisman built his collection over the course of nearly 30 years, and his dedicated research into Russian artists who, in the spirit of creative freedom, defied the aesthetic restrictions imposed by Stalin and his successors, illuminates the social and artistic rebellion of a suppressed people and culture.

Abstract and metaphoric artworks critique the Russian media as well as the pervasive effects of Social Realist ideology upon daily life during the Cold War. In a daring fight for artistic freedom, now referred to as the “second Russian Avant-Garde movement,” Soviet artists of many backgrounds—the Reform, Radical and Leningrad schools; Sots art; Moscow conceptualism; and more—were able to adopt and transform existing avant-garde traditions to express their artistic and political will.

This exhibition featured works by Grisha Bruskin, Dmitrii Krasnopevtsev, Natalia Nestervoa, Boris Orlov, Alexandr Rodchenko, Vadim Sidur, and Vladimir Stenberg.

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