art 2004/2

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Jurgis Mačiűnas. Performansas. 1963

Mega Exhibitions
Berlin–Moscow/ Moscow–Berlin. 1950–2000

by Ramutë Rachlevičiűtë

A panorama covering half a century of a national art is a rare experience these days; an exhibition attempting at drawing parallels in the artistic developments in two super powers over such a period strikes as an even more unique endeavor. Such one was launched in Berlin on January 5–October 28, 2003. The Berlin-Moscow/Moscow–Berlin.1950–2000 that was on display at the State History Museum in Moscow from April 3 till June 15, 2004 is covered in this article.
In order to distance art from the sour historical facts, the curators of the event decided to provide a historical background in a separate volume of an accompanying catalogue. The developments in architecture, film, literature, music, theatre also were part of the retrospect. Photography and cinema played a special role. Plentiful photographic materials and excerpts from German and Soviet motion pictures provided a unifying context for the exhibition that intentionally abolished chronological structure, yet spanned five decades and four artistic generations. Berlin and Moscow, two mega towns, provided a framework for the overview of the art of five different states – GDR, GFR, Germany, USSR and Russia. The exhibition posed difficult tasks for the curators, Jaketerina Diogot and Viktor Mizian. However, J. Diogot managed to publish a holistic study of the 20th century Russian art. The book demonstrates it is not a pie sliced into separate pieces of avant-garde, soviet period, underground and post-soviet period, as it is usually conceived. A discussion on German art in the second half of the 20th century was made possible only after the unification of Germany in 1989. Over the three decades, in Germany (Western) abstract art established itself firmly as a symbol of Western culture, freedom and democracy. Figurative art was made into an attribute of the opposing camp. Figure painting or sculpture became  emblematic of the artist’s subservient relationship with ideology and politics. The Berlin-Moscow/Moscow–Berlin. 1950-2000 revealed numerous stereotypes and misconceptions about art ‘on both sides’ (e.g., such as the pervasive socialist realism), and invited to abolish or revise them thus living up to its ambition of rewriting the history of art.

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