Drawing the Hungarian Revolution

Although the revolutions of 1989 are commemorated as marking the fall of the Soviet Union, many consider that the beginning of the end was 33 years earlier, in 1956. At the start of that year, on 25 February, new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev delivered the ground-breaking speech “On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences” to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet … Continue reading Drawing the Hungarian Revolution

Featured Artist: Stefan Constantinescu

The Romanian Revolution from 16 to 27 December 1989 swept Nicolae Ceaușescu from power and brought an end to 42 years of communist rule. While 25 years have now passed since that tumultuous fortnight a number of Romanian artists continue to explore their country’s struggles in the aftermath of revolution. Once such artist is Ştefan Constantinescu. Born in Bucharest in 1968, Constantinescu experienced first hand the daily grind … Continue reading Featured Artist: Stefan Constantinescu

Iraq’s Modernist Monument to the 14 July Revolution

On 14 July 1958 a secret military group of Arab nationalists, known as the Free Officers, staged a coup d’état in Iraq. The revolution aimed to eliminate the Hashemith monarchy and the last vestiges of British colonial rule in the country. During the coup 23-year-old King Faisal II and his family were assassinated, removing a key ally in the West’s attempts to combat Soviet influence … Continue reading Iraq’s Modernist Monument to the 14 July Revolution

What & Where: Nixon Gets the Stalin Treatment

Several years before the Watergate scandal brought Richard Nixon’s presidency to an undignified end, a grateful Hungarian émigré artist memorialised the politician in an altogether more favourable light. Nixon at Andau was painted in 1970 by Ferenc Daday, who had emigrated to the United States along with many of his compatriots after the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The painting recalls Nixon’s visit that year … Continue reading What & Where: Nixon Gets the Stalin Treatment

The Reclining Lenins of Ukraine

In times of revolution, political statuary often pays the price. Since Ukraine’s latest troubles began, sculptures symbolising the country’s turbulent relationship with Russia have felt the full force of the nation’s anger. A “statue war” between pro- and anti-Russian citizens foreshadowed the current crisis, with at least 12 statues of Lenin defaced in Ukraine since 2009. One of the casualties was a historic statue in the … Continue reading The Reclining Lenins of Ukraine

When Art Escaped the Cuban Revolution

After 6 years of conflict, the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista as President of Cuba on 1 January 1959 marked the end of the Cuban Revolution and the establishment of Fidel Castro’s socialist state. Sensing the imminent demise of his regime, Batista was careful to ensure his personal art collection would escape intact from the island. The collection was donated in 1957 ‘to the city and … Continue reading When Art Escaped the Cuban Revolution

Uprising Against Hungary’s Sculpture

In the words of then-Senator John F. Kennedy, ‘October 23, 1956 is a day that will live forever in the annals of free men and nations. It was a day of courage, conscience and triumph. No other day since history began has shown more clearly man’s eternally unquenchable desire to be free, whatever the odds against success, whatever the sacrifice required’. One of the most … Continue reading Uprising Against Hungary’s Sculpture