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Josif Bakshteyn

THE S. KOCHELEV SHOW in New York inspired great ambivalence. On the one hand, the Russian art community was delighted that this prominent Russian artist had finally exhibited in the USA, and that he had attracted some attention from our American colleagues. On the other hand, the circumstances of the exhibition, and the unfortunate developments of the opening night, have caused us much distress.

What have we in mind? One must begin by explaining why it is so important that an American audience get to know Kochelev’s work. It seems that in the USA, and in the West in general, a whole stratum of prewar Soviet art—of which Kochelev’s paintings are a prime exemplar—is unknown. Yet without knowing this work, one cannot comprehend the experiments of the Suprematists, the art of the Stalinist period, or even the unofficial art of the ’70s.

One of the biggest problems in Russian 20th-century

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