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Title: Representations of Russian Art in American Art History and Criticism 1917-1939
Author: Clark, Toby
ISNI:       0000 0004 2694 8617
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1994
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This dissertation examines the critical reception and historical construction of Russian art in the United States between 1917 and 1939. The study focuses on two main types of Russian art; that of the Russian avant-garde, and that of artists who emigrated to the United States and achieved a high level of critical visibility and commercial success there during the 1920s. The discussion of the Russian emigre artists concentrates on the treatment of their work in the American curatorial system and art market. It examines the critical strategies used to promote these artists, particularly in the writings of Christian Brinton, who formulated a new category termed 'Slavic art' which relied on theories of racial essentialism. The subsequent decline of the careers of the emigre artists can be explained partly by reference to the reorientation in American critical values after the early 1930s. Research on the interpretation of the Russian and Soviet avantgarde in the United States is focussed on two main Modernist institutions; the Societe Anonyme during the 1920s and the Museum of Modern Art in New York after 1929. The Societe Anonyme's management of its large collection of Russian avant-garde art is discussed in relation to the contrasting aesthetic perspectives and political alignments of Katherine Dreier and Louis Lozowick, and compared with alternative interpretations in western Europe. The study of the representation of the Russian avant-garde by the Museum of Modern Art is concentrated on the writings of Alfred Barr and his critical theory of Modernism. Barr's account of the history of Russian Constructivism and Soviet cultural policies in 1936 is seen to have performed an important function for establishing an ideological position for the ascending discourses of American Modernism in opposition to the competing positions of conservative anti-Modernism and left-wing aesthetics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available