Conceptualising the art of communist times

Gupta, Suman (2010). Conceptualising the art of communist times. Third Text, 24(5) pp. 571–582.



The relative neglect that art from the communist period of former Eastern Bloc countries suffers now has much to do with the dominant ideologies of the present and the consequent preconceptions and framings that have been retrospectively imposed. This article argues the need for critical analysis of such preconceptions and framings themselves, and of their ideological underpinnings. Three sections take up different modes of retrospective disposal of art from the communist Eastern Bloc: the first discusses divisions between the 'official' and the 'unofficial' made for such art; the second focuses on the overdetermination of the schism between pre-1989 and post-1989, or loosely the before and after of the 1980s; and the third analyses influential accounts of 'totalitarian art' which developed primarily in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The latter, it is argued, are not merely accounts of totalitarianism but are also totalistic themselves.

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