moscow

Andy Warhol, Hammer and Sickle, 1976, acrylic and silk-screen ink on canvas, 15 x 19“. From ”If Our Soup Can Could Speak: Mikhail Lifshitz and the Soviet Sixties."

Mikhail Lifshitz

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

Andy Warhol, Hammer and Sickle, 1976, acrylic and silk-screen ink on canvas, 15 x 19“. From ”If Our Soup Can Could Speak: Mikhail Lifshitz and the Soviet Sixties."

The Soviet philosopher and critic Mikhail Lifshitz would not seem, at first glance, the most obvious subject for an exhibition at a museum of contemporary art. Sometimes described as a Marxist conservative, Lifshitz spent the early 1920s as a student and then a lecturer at Vkhutemas, the state art school, only to reject the avant-garde that flourished there in favor of a return to classicism. Branded a “right-wing deviant” at the school, he took up a post as a researcher at Moscow’s Marx-Engels Institute in 1929 alongside György Lukács and spent much of the 1930s working to prove that a coherent aesthetic theory—conveniently, one that justified his anti-modernist views—could be found in the writings of Marx himself. Though Lifshitz survived the Stalinist purges of the late 1930s more or less unscathed, his work was interrupted by the outbreak of war, and when he returned

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