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.