Soviet artists come to New York "to paint the way they want to," but they soon learn that the art world in the United States is a complex system of relationships and is imbued with its own standards of what is acceptable art. Mediating between art as it is produced by artists and the audience that purchases it, or even looks at it, are galleries, museums, funding agencies, and critics. Art schools, critics, and galleries as well as the most prestigious painters and sculptors influence what even artists themselves deem worthy of consideration as art. The Soviet art world in which the emigrés trained, developed, and worked is a very different system.
How do these artists make their way in the art scene of New York City? Their adjustment involves not only a coming to terms with some practical realities, but also a clash of artistic ideas and standards, and the confusion and despair as well as the elation that individual artists experience in the confrontation. Although they have rejected the official standards of Soviet art and its bureaucratic organization, the emigrés bring with them to the United States cherished values and assumptions that were formed in the world they left behind. There were features of their lives as Soviet artists