An Ambiguous Portrait of Stalin

Anyone who has watched the 2017 satirical movie The Death of Stalin will have a darkly humorous although roughly factual understanding of the events of 5 March 1953, when the Soviet dictator finally met his end. After 3 decades in which ‘Stalinism’ had increasingly dominated all aspects of political and cultural life in Russia and the wider Soviet Union, it would take the country many … Continue reading An Ambiguous Portrait of Stalin

Brazil’s Bloody Bundles

In the early 1960s, Brazil’s left-leaning president João Goulart made many powerful enemies with his attempts to reduce the exploitative practices of multinational companies, in favour of improving education and labour standards for the Brazilian people. Meanwhile, the US administrations of Kennedy and Johnson were anxious to see Goulart establishing diplomatic relations with Cold War enemies such as China and Cuba, and began to consider … Continue reading Brazil’s Bloody Bundles

The Street Art of Afghanistan

On International Women’s Day 2017, Espionart takes a look at the work of a female artist who is challenging stereotypes about women in one of the world’s most patriarchal societies. In the Afghan capital of Kabul, the spray-painted image of a shadowy figure, wrapped in a blue burqa, is an unexpected shock of bright colour in the unrelenting grey urban landscape. This image is the work of … Continue reading The Street Art of Afghanistan

Henry Moore in Albania

This snapshot of a man posing next to one of Henry Moore’s reclining figures appears unremarkable and similar to thousands taken every year across Britain, where the artist’s modernist bronzes are a common feature in sculpture gardens and public parks. But this image records a momentous and moving visit to the Henry Moore Studios & Gardens in Hertfordshire, England for Maks Velo, an Albanian artist … Continue reading Henry Moore in Albania

The Ambiguous Art of Post-Revolutionary Cuba

The Cuban Revolution came to an end in January 1959, as the guerrilla revolt led by Fidel Castro swept from power the US-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The subsequent transformation of the Caribbean island into a Communist state, aligned with the Soviet Union, would give rise to an uneasy relationship between Cuba and the United States that exists to this day, and which in the 1960s … Continue reading The Ambiguous Art of Post-Revolutionary Cuba

Nuclear Art in the Swinging Sixties

When Colin Self began his studies at London’s Slade School of Fine Art in 1961, Britain and the wider world were in the midst of a terrifying year. The ever-present threat of nuclear war reached a crisis point in the aftermath of the disastrous Bay of Pigs Invasion, while Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering space flight in April and the installation of the Berlin Wall in August … Continue reading Nuclear Art in the Swinging Sixties

John Keane, Gulf War Artist

Soon after the start of the Gulf War on 2 August 1990, painter and photographer John Keane was invited by the Imperial War Museum (IWM) in London to be Britain’s official war artist for this new conflict, forged in the disintegration of the Cold War. At first refused accreditation by a suspicious Ministry of Defence, due to his record of painting an unflattering portrait of war, the 36-year-old Keane eventually … Continue reading John Keane, Gulf War Artist