Author: Eleanor Stoltzfus

Unrealised Ambition: ‘Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution’ at the Design Museum

As a devotee of Soviet art in 2017, one is currently spoiled for choice in a sea of centenary exhibitions dedicated to contextualising the early years of  upheaval that followed the Russian revolution. The Design Museum’s current exhibition, Imagine Moscow: Architecture, Propaganda, Revolution offers a distinct study of architectural utopianism during the initial years of Soviet communism. The compactness of this exhibition relative to, for example, the larger project recently undertaken by the Royal Academy (about which you can read culturised’s thoughts here), provides a visitor the opportunity for prolonged contemplation of monumental aspirations in a more intimate setting,...

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Lorna Simpson’s ‘Twenty Questions (A Sampler)’: Photography’s Power Dynamics

Lorna Simpson first came to prominence as a conceptual artist in the mid-1980s, after graduating with an MFA from the University of San Diego. During this period, artists were preoccupied with dismantling the established framework of contemporary art practices, in response to shifting modes of perception sparked by postmodernism and the surge of poststructuralist writing. With the deconstruction of existing modes of artistic production came a renewed interest in the narrative device and the potency of text. Artists such as Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer adopted text as a powerful medium through which to question issues of representation and...

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Modernising Modernism: ‘The Radical Eye: Modernist Photography from the Sir Elton John Collection’ at Tate Modern

In 2003, art historian Eva Forgács wrote critically of the scholarly categorization of an “East-European” modernist art, a descriptor that homogenised the broad diversity of artistic experimentation in countries such as Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.[1] During the early twentieth century, Forgács argued, artists did not subscribe to a regionalist consciousness and did not engage in regional discourse. Therefore, to universalise the artistic output of an entire region of Europe, ignoring the cultural differences and ethnic tensions between social groups in that area, was to treat the subject superficially from a hegemonic Western perspective. Fourteen years have passed since...

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“Class Consciousness to the Fray!”: El Lissitzky’s Soviet Pavillion at ‘Pressa’

2017 marks the centenary of the two Russian revolutions that irrevocably altered the Russian political system and had broad and lasting impacts on the course of the twentieth century. The anniversary of the toppling of Tsarist autocracy and the institution of communism provides an opportunity to reflect on the vast ramifications the events of 1917 had on Russian culture, and the diverse forms of artistic expression that were born amidst this upheaval. Numerous art exhibitions this year are thus examining these early avant-garde experimentations that happened during the period before Stalin instituted Socialist Realism as an official state doctrine;...

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Pushing Boundaries: Rauschenberg at the Tate Modern

The first comprehensive retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s career since his death in 2008 recently opened at the Tate Modern and runs until April 2nd. Encompassing the vast diversity of his artistic legacy, from his early experimentations at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, to his final works reinvestigating the possibilities of photography transfers, the exhibition is a monumental celebration of Rauschenberg’s achievements. Robert Rauschenberg matured as a young artist during the heyday of Abstract Expressionism. Taught by such bastions of modernism as Bauhaus artist Josef Albers – whose strict disciplinary approach to learning prompted Rauschenberg to do “exactly the reverse”...

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