Access and Elitism: On some pitfalls in the relation- ship between art and politics


  • Raymond Deane


It is self-evident that nothing concerning art is self-evident any more, not its inner life, not its relation to the world, not even its right to exist. (Theodor Adorno: Aesthetic Theory)

The early years of the 20th century saw an extraordinary ferment of radical artistic creativity in Russia, parallel to the political upheavals starting in 1905. Malevich, Blok, Mayakovsky, Zamyatin, Bely, Meyerhold, Vertov, Scriabin, Diaghilev, all pushed beyond traditional aesthetic boundaries and were influential beyond the borders of Russia or, eventually, the USSR. Not all subscribed unambiguously to revolutionary politics, but all contributed to the climate of revolutionary change.