This book is the first comprehensive comparative study of the artistic culture of the region once located between the Iron Curtain and the Soviet Union, a part of Europe that due to the agreement signed by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta in the Crimea in February 1945 found itself trapped within the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. Piotr Piotrowski chronicles the complex relation between avant-garde art practice and politics in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Poland, East Germany, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria from the end of the Second World War to the collapse of Communism in 1989. Beginning with an analysis of Surrealism in Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary, Piotrowski examines the development of different Modernist art strategies within the context of a thawing Stalinism. He follows with an account of the emergence of neo-avant-garde practices - conceptual, body and performance art - during the volatile political circumstances of the 1970s. The book's epilogue examines the impact of the end of Communism on art that both witnessed and responded to the system's demise.
Alongside the discussion of the frequently highly innovative art made in response to always challenging and sometimes nightmarish circumstances, In the Shadow of Yalta examines several common threads that bind the post-war narrative of Eastern European art: the erosion of ideology, the rise of consumerism, and the emergence of political pragmatism. Illustrated with more than 200 images of artworks from across the region, few of which will be familiar to an Anglo-American audience, In the Shadow of Yalta offers new critical insights into the lives of artists, the politics of art and culture, and the character of the avant-garde art practices that were pursued behind the Iron Curtain during a crucial era in the history of modern Europe. This book has much to interest art historians and critics, as well as historians of European political and cultural life.
Piotr Piotrowski is Professor of Art History at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Meanings of Modernism: Towards a History of Polish Art after 1945 (1999) and Art after Politics (2007).