More than meets the eye: nonconformist art during the Khrushchev thaw
LE3 .A278 2019
Bachelor of Arts
History & Classics
When discussing the nonconformist art movement during Khrushchev’s Thaw, the general assumption is that the artists were a cohesive unit reacting against the rigid structures of Socialist Realism and taking advantage of a period of liberalization and artistic tolerance to launch a calculated attack on the Party apparatus. Through an examination of the primary source material, this thesis reveals that the assumption that the nonconformist artists were a unified group sharing a single goal is false. They were labelled as a group because their art fell under the four categories of unacceptable art as outlined by “the Authorities,” but their personal attitudes and political aims differed greatly. This thesis also reveals that Khrushchev’s de-Stalinizing campaign and subsequent liberalization during the Thaw was disingenuous and did not stem from a real desire for reform, as made evident by the conservative reaction from within the Party, and Khrushchev’s outburst at the Moscow Manège in 1962. These factors in combination fostered a sense of betrayal that permeated the relationships between the artists and the Party, resulting in the collapse of the Thaw and Khrushchev’s ouster, which ushered in a more conservative period under the leadership of Leonid Brezhnev.
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