Art and Culture in the Cracks of the Soviet System
Discussed at the Highest Level
Irina Antonova began working for the State Pushkin Museum, Moscow a month after the end of WWII, and was appointed Director in 1961 by Minister of Culture Ekaterina Furtseva. During the filming of The Frozen Theater at the museum, she recalls a challenging time in the Soviet experience.
“We are a museum of world art showing mainly foreign artists, …but still there were several ideological restrictions in the area of art and culture. When I tried to show the art of impressionists and postimpressionists in full, in an open exhibition, it was such a struggle for the right to show. I even prepared a letter of resignation from the museum, because if they hadn’t allowed me to show these large collections, to show them in the museum in full, I would have resigned. I wouldn’t have been interested in working here” states Antonova.
“The exhibition in 1974 was discussed at the highest level, and they allowed me to show our Matisses, Cezannes, Van Goghs, Gauguins. Now it seems silly. Why didn’t they allow me to show them before? Well, at that time it was this way. We were the first to show Warhol, Rosenquist, Paul Jacks, Pollack…, and Bruskin is such an outstanding example of nonconformist art, we showed them in the museum.