American Modernism Comes to Moscow

130729 American Exhibition

Several weeks after the Soviet Exhibition opened in New York, the reciprocal American Exhibition opened at Moscow’s Sokolniki Park on 25 July 1959. The art on display was in stark contrast to the heroic socialist realist paintings and sculptures shown in New York. Although American realism was represented in works by celebrated artists such as Andrew Wyeth, Thomas Hart Benton, John Steuart Curry and Edward Hopper, among the 67 artists featured were a significant number of modernists, including Alexander Calder, Jackson Pollock, Arshile Gorky and Mark Rothko.

The art exhibition caused controversy back home in the United States, as the organisers were castigated for including artists with apparent links to Communism. In Moscow, the work also garnered a mixed reception by Soviet audiences, while Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev responded with characteristic delicacy by commenting that it looks to me like a little boy pissed on the canvas‘.

Image: Crowds viewing the American National Exhibition in Moscow, 1959. Photographer: F. Goess. Downtown Gallery records, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

5 thoughts on “American Modernism Comes to Moscow

  1. Reblogged this on Cold and commented:
    Coldsters! Espionart is a wonderful, new blog that focuses on Cold War art. I’ve been following it for a few weeks now and have been blown away by how well curated it is and how just damned interesting it is. Really a professional job – and that’s kind of rare in the blogosphere. So, don your dark sunglasses and trench coat, sit down on a park bench – and while you’re waiting for your contact to come and ask you about the weather in Madrid, scroll through some Espionart.

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