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  • CHARLES KRAUSE / REPORTING FINE ART 1602 Seventh Street NW Washington, DC 20001 USA (map)

Soviet and American Political Art from the Cold War to the 2016 Putin-Trump Cyber-Cooperation Pact:                                                              


The exhibit is divided into three sections.


SOVIET PROPAGANDA ART: The first section of the exhibit presents Soviet propaganda art in the official Socialist Realist style from the 1950’s to the 1970’s, including the original artwork for two of the Cold War’s most famous Russian posters by N. Denisovsky. Viewed together, the propaganda art displayed here reflects the Marxist ideology, xenophobia and national pride the USSR harnessed during the Cold War to compete with the United States for influence in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
This Art also provides a key to understanding the worldview of former KGB officer, and now Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who came of age when posters like these were plastered on walls and kiosks in Moscow and Leningrad. Years later, Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th Century.”

What seems clear is that Putin viewed Hillary Clinton as an adversary and obstacle to achieving his strategic objective of regaining superpower status by rebuilding Russia’s armed forces and restoring the Kremlin’s de facto control over the now-independent nations that were Soviet Socialist Republics before the USSR collapsed and they gained their independence in 1991. Trump, on the other hand, has been effusive in his praise of Putin while dismissing Russia's annexation of Crimea and military occupation of Eastern Ukraine and disputed sections of Georgia as  unimportant to the United States.

The question is why. 

Was giving Putin a free hand the price Trump agreed to pay, implicitly or explicitly, for Putin’s cyber-intervention on his behalf during the election? Or did the Russian hackers get hold of documents Putin is using to blackmail Trump? Could it be a bit of both?

NON-CONFORMIST ART: The second section of the Acquire’us exhibit presents important paintings, drawings, etchings and prints by Russian artists denounced as enemies of the revolution, their work banned from public display, and persecuted by the Soviet commissars and their KGB enforcers, sometimes brutally, because they refused to draw, paint and sculpt in the official style. Yet, it could be said that the seeds of the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism were sown by 14 of these so-called Non-Conformist artists in 1974, when the Kremlin sent bulldozers and a mob of “workers” to destroy a tiny exhibit of their paintings in a Moscow park.

The “bulldozer exhibition” made headlines around the world, confirming the USSR’s image as a totalitarian dictatorship which demanded conformity to communist party doctrine primarily. The exhibit also cemented the reputations of the 14 artists who took part in it as Russia’s true Avant Garde; and, as word of what had happened spread, gave hope to millions of others, who chafed under the rigid communist system, that they were not alone.

Several of the artists whose work was destroyed in 1974 are now represented in the permanent collections of Russia’s most important museums, among them Vladimir Nemukhin, whose Still Life with Playing Cards from 1987 (LEFT) is now on display in the Acquire’us exhibit. And there is no longer an official style decreed by the Russian government. Which isn’t to say artists whose work is critical of Putin’s government aren’t threatened with arrest or that their work isn’t destroyed by hooligans who never seem to be caught and punished.

Just this week, The New York Times reported that one of Russia’s best known dissident artists, Pyotr Pavlensky, had fled to France, where he intends to request political asylum after having been threatened with arrest in Moscow. “The situation-

--with its charges of a honey trap and ‘kompromat (compromising material gathered by the authorities) ---reflects the climate of suspicion and growing authoritarianism in Russia,” The Times said. What the Times didn’t say is that Pavlensky’s “situation” sounds an awful lot like the unconfirmed information which Russia’s FSB may or may not have about Trump’s alleged but unconfirmed sexual escapades in Moscow.

The alleged information, which the CIA feared, if true, could possibly be used to blackmail President Trump, was contained in a dossier the CIA summarized and included as an appendix to the memorandum it and the other U.S. intelligence services gave to President Obama and Trump recently concerning Russia’s hacking on Trump’s behalf.