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Moscow Merz and Russian Rhythm

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Tracking Vestiges of the Erste Russische Kunstausstellung, Berlin, 1922

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The Erste Russische Kunstausstellung [First Russian Art Exhibition] of 1922 was a remarkable event not only for Berlin’s art lovers at that time, but also for the history of twentieth century art. Held at Galerie van Diemen, the show gave a comprehensive overview of Russia’s artistic achievements from late Tsardom to the Russian Civil War. Of all styles in the exhibition, the non-objective art movements of suprematism and constructivism provoked the greatest sensation among the visitors, many of whom were Western artists. Relating Russia’s variations of non-objectivity with their—assumed—political notions, Western modernists reacted in various ways. This article aims at tracking the long-lasting vestiges of the Erste Russische Kunstausstellung in the personal and artistic developments of two key-figures of Germany’s modern art scene: Kurt Schwitters and Hans Richter. While the role of El Lissitzky, who designed the catalogue’s cover, has already been canonized, this article wants to highlight lesser-regarded aspects.

Affiliations: 1: PhD candidate, Hamburg UniversityGermany miriam.haessler@googlemail.com

10.1163/2211730X-12341305
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2017-10-11
2018-10-23

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