St George and the Atomic Dragon

Perched majestically atop his trusty steed, while delivering a death blow with a spear to the contorted monster at his feet, St George appears incongruous with the lofty skyscrapers that rise above him in Manhattan. What could have caused this valiant knight to venture into the concrete jungle? The bronze effigy of St George came to New York in 1990, in the twilight months of … Continue reading St George and the Atomic Dragon

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

Exhibition: Dreamworlds and Catastrophes

Recommended by ESPIONART in 2015, the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Jersey is home to a vast collection of nonconformist Soviet art that was secretly amassed and brought to the United States by the late American economist, Norton Dodge. The latest exhibition at the museum focuses on fantastical and nightmarish scenes conjured up by Soviet artists at the height of the Cold War, inspired by the … Continue reading Exhibition: Dreamworlds and Catastrophes

“Russ Chief Secretly Fancies Art”

“Russ chief secretly fancies art”! So screamed a headline in the Milwaukee Sentinel on 29 January 1983. The “Russ chief” in question was Soviet politician Yuri Andropov, who on 12 November 1982 succeeded Leonid Brezhnev to become the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union – and therefore leader of the USSR. According to the newspaper report, which quoted the Times of London, Andropov … Continue reading “Russ Chief Secretly Fancies Art”

Recommended: Zimmerli Art Museum

New Jersey is the unlikely home of the world’s largest collection of Nonconformist Soviet art. Since 1991 the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, has hosted Norton T. Dodge’s incomparable collection of underground art, smuggled out of the USSR between the Khrushchev Thaw and Glasnost. The incredible story of the economics professor who became the saviour of unofficial Soviet art is the subject … Continue reading Recommended: Zimmerli Art Museum

Exhibitions of the Month: From Germany to Lenin

This month sees the closure of the British Museum’s chronicle of Germany, timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Germany: Memories of a Nation is an ambitious retrospective, attempting to tell 600 years of history through objects in a single room. The country’s difficult Cold War history, divided between the Soviet-backed German Democratic Republic and the Westernised Federal … Continue reading Exhibitions of the Month: From Germany to Lenin

The CIA Comic Book Airdropped Over Grenada

Operation Urgent Fury, the controversial US-led invasion of Grenada, concluded with a decisive victory for the United States on 15 December 1983. The Reagan administration claimed that this action, the country’s first major military operation since the end of the Vietnam War, was launched in response to appeals for help by Grenada’s neighbouring islands. However, it has also been widely argued that the campaign was … Continue reading The CIA Comic Book Airdropped Over Grenada