At Home among Strangers: U.S. Artists, the Soviet Union, and the Myth of Rockwell Kent during the Cold War
During the Cold War, official Soviet institutions organized tens of exhibitions of an American figurative artist Rockwell Kent. These exhibitions, undertaken bypassing the official United States, demonstrate that promotion of Kent in the USSR was an exclusively Soviet enterprise. Examining the role of Soviet institutions in Kent’s success, the article sheds new light on the Soviet approach to the representation of American visual art during the Cold War.
Basing on unique findings from American and Russian archives, the article provides a comprehensive analysis of political and aesthetical factors, which predetermined Kent’s incredible popularity in the Soviet Union. Contextualizing the Soviet representation of Kent within relevant Cold War contexts, the article argues that Kent occupied a specific symbolic position in Soviet culture, as Soviet propaganda re-conceptualized the artist’s biography and established the Myth of Rockwell Kent. This myth served for legitimization of Soviet ideology and for anti-American propaganda.