For Tomorrow They Will Not Recognize Us: The American Reception of Soviet Leftist Art
In this thesis, I take a historiographic approach to the reception of Soviet leftist art of the early 20th century in the United States. I explore the ways that Soviet movements like Suprematism and Constructivism were appropriated as a vehicle for political meaning by American institutions and the means by which those Soviet artists, artworks, and legacies were framed. The decades covered by my thesis were characterized by global warfare and high-stakes diplomacy, beginning with the immediate aftermath of the Russian Revolution in 1917 through the Second World War, into the Cold War and the Vietnam War. The thesis is divided into three sections roughly aligning with these time periods and each anchored by an exhibition that typifies the feelings and scholarship on the Soviet leftist art in the United States. The exhibitions I examine are Cubism and Abstract Art (1936), Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner (1948), and Primary Structures (1966).