Changing Countries: Russian Artists in the United States
In the preceding chapters, we focused on artists working in different political and economic systems. Significant differences in the art worlds of the United States, Britain, and Scandinavia emerged from these discussions. In eastern Germany, artists experienced dramatic transition in their own society — the introduction of new artistic institutions and a developed market system for the arts accompanied the political transformation. Yet significant elements of GDR traditions remained in some of the artistic circles in eastern Germany. Furthermore, the strong public supports for the arts and the west German welfare system addressed a number of the difficulties east German artists experienced in the new environment. The movement of Russian artists to the United States from the 1970s on involved a drastic change for the individual émigrés. The experience of this change throws a very personal light on the contrast between two different political and economic environments in which art is produced. This chapter will begin by offering a brief historical background to the role of the arts in the Soviet Union, then review the experiences of artists who emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, and finally turn to the most recent emigration from Russia.1 This last section of the chapter will also include a few observations of Russian visual artists who immigrated to Israel during the 1990s, thus providing an additional perspective on the importance of the social and political context.2
KeywordsUnited States Personal Conversation Soviet Society American Artist Commercial Work
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