Watching the red dawn

The American avant-garde and the Soviet Union

Author: Barnaby Haran

Watching the red dawn charts the responses of the American avant-garde to the cultural works of its Soviet counterpart in period from the formation of the USSR in 1922 to recognition of this new communist nation by USA in 1933. In this period American artists, writers, and designers looked at the emerging Soviet Union with fascination, as they observed this epochal experiment in communism develop out of the chaos of the Russian Revolution and Civil War. They organised exhibitions of Soviet art and culture, reported on visits to Russia in books and articles, and produced works that were inspired by post-revolutionary culture. One of the most important innovations of Soviet culture was to collapse boundaries between disciplines, as part of a general aim to bring art into everyday life. Correspondingly, this book takes an interdisciplinary approach by looking at American avant-garde responses to Soviet culture across several media, including architecture, theatre, film, photography, and literature. As such, Watching the red dawn considers the putative area of ‘American Constructivism’ by examining the interconnected ways in which Constructivist works were influential upon American practices.

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