respect and support of that part of Soviet society it would not be
wrong to call its better part. What is most important is that it
represents a huge potential audience for him, an audience that keenly and disinterestedly responds to the nonconformist aspect of his
works. The half-empty halls of the ubiquitously publicized official
exhibits, and the rooms packed full to bursting at any unofficial
exhibition, are perhaps the clearest indicator of the moral status of
the unofficial artist in the USSR, that "privilege" for which almost
any of his materially prospering colleagues will envy him.
This system of art is the only system Soviet artists know, whether
they work officially or unofficially. They lack the opportunity to
understand the totally different internal structure of Western artistic
life, how it functions, its professional relations, its values and its
assessments. For the artist, therefore, emigration from the USSR
must inevitably be a leap from illusion to reality, as well as from the
realm of necessity to the realm of freedom.
K. Malevich, O novykh sistemakh v iskusstve [ On New Systems in Art]
(Vitebsk, 1919), as quoted in
Troels Andersen, ed., Essays on Art, Vol. 1 ( London, 1969), p. 94.
S. Lissitzky-Küpper, El Lissitzky: Life, Letters, Texts ( London, 1968), p. 327.
Marc Chagall, My Life ( London, 1965), p. 135.
"Sud 'by sovetskoi intelligentsii," Sovetskii rabochii [Soviet Worker], 1925, p. 27.
Leon Trotsky, Literature and Revolution, pp. 145-49.
Sheila Fitzpatrick. The Commissariat of Enlightenment. Soviet Organization of Education and the Arts under Lunacharsky ( Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1970), p. 236.
At this stage the political directorate of the Red Army played a very
important role. It had huge, practically uncontrollable means for propaganda and
agitation; the Soviet generals of that time were the principal patrons of the growing
forces of total realism.
According to figures for 1969 the Academy had 31 active members, 69
corresponding members, and 20 honorary (foreign) members. If there was any
change in its composition over the years, it was only an increase in numbers.
P. Smith, "Soviet Art Reconsidered," Art Monthly, London, October 1981, p. 7.