new-york-city

View of “Russia!,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2005.

“Russia!”

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

Remember the 1966 movie The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming? Well, guess what? The Russians are back, only this time they are showering the West with money rather than ideology. Or is it so simple as that? Russian intellectuals were in a rush to naively proclaim the end of ideology during perestroika, when they witnessed top Soviet apparatchiks turning the Communist regime into their own enemy. While staging this revolution from the inside, Mikhail Gorbachev romanced Ronald Reagan and opened up the cultural arena to Western institutions and the art market, thereby replacing the single ideology of communism with the multiple ideologies of capitalism. Thus it comes as no surprise that one wall text accompanying the works on view in “Russia!” attributes the well-being of the country’s contemporary art not to scholars, curators, or critics but rather to Sotheby’s 1988 auction in

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