Art Discourse of the Yekaterinburg Avant-Garde: From the 1960s Basements to the 1980s Exhibitions


This paper is devoted to the first domestic international conference Avant-Garde Movements in the Soviet Fine Arts: History and Modernity organised by the Department of the Art History of the Ural State University, by the Regional Department of Culture and by the White Gallery under the direction V.A. Malinov. The conference took place on January 19–21, 1990 in Sverdlovsk in the Cinema House. This event, which united art critics of the Urals, Siberia, Moscow, Kiev and Sofia, was one of the first sophisticated attempts to consider the issues faced by art movements which were not officially recognized and, therefore, existed “in the underground”. Due to various objective and subjective circumstances, local cultural strivings of that time were expressed more fully in painting and graphics than in other art forms. Sverdlovsk visual arts became well-known far beyond the region and played a special role in the city’s artistic life. The exhibition focused on the members of the art partnership ”Surikova, 31”. Almost two hundred artists and over six hundred works were presented in the 1987 exhibition. The exhibition stunned the public due to the age range of the artists, the explosion of movements and styles, and most of all the freedom of expression. Since then, exhibition activity has emerged from the basements and become public. Materials from the Ural conference 1990 are still interesting and relevant as part of the history of non-official art both in Sverdlovsk/Yekaterinburg and Russia in general.

Keywords: modernism, avant-garde, Artists’ Union, socialist realism, underground, the second avant-garde, nonconformism, postmodernism.

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