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The Ransom of Russian Art

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The Ransom of Russian Art Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the 1960s and 1970s, an American professor of Soviet economics forayed on his own in the Soviet Union, bought the work of underground “unofficial” artists, and brought it out himself or arranged to have it illegally shipped to the United States. Norton Dodge visited the apartments of unofficial artists in at least a dozen geographically scattered cities. By 1977, he had a thousand works of art. His ultimate window of interest involved the years from 1956 to 1986, and through his established contacts he eventually acquired another eight thousand worksby far the largest collection of its kind.

John McPhee investigates Dodges clandestine activities in the service of dissident Soviet art, his motives for his work, and the fates of several of the artists whose lives he touched. The Ransom of Russian Art is a suspenseful, chilling, and fascinating report on a covert operation like no other. It offers unprecedented insight into Soviet culture at the brink of the Unions collapse.

John McPhee is the author of more than 25 books, including Annals of the Former World, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction in 1999. He has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1965 and lives in Princeton, New Jersey. McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were both nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science.

In the 1960s and '70s, an American professor of Soviet economics forayed on his own in the Soviet Union, bought the work of underground "unofficial" artists, and smuggled it out himself or arranged to have it illegally shipped to the United States. Norton Dodge visited the apartments of unofficial artists in at least a dozen geographically scattered cities. By 1977, he had amassed a thousand works of modern or contemporary Russian art, but at that point, after the mysterious death of leading dissident artist Evgeny Rukhin, and with a sense that he had flouted the Soviets perhaps more than too much, Dodge made only one more trip to the Soviet Union. Thereafter, he continued to acquire works through his established contacts. Dodge eventually secured another eight thousand worksby far the largest collection of its kind.

In this keen and engrossing exposition on the history, politics, and culture of dissident Soviet art, McPhee investigates Dodges clandestine activitiesas well as the motives for his collecting and the fates of several of the artists whose lives he touched. The Ransom of Russian Art is a suspenseful and fascinating report on a covert operation like no other. It also offers unprecedented insights into Soviet culture at the brink of the Unions collapse.

"An excellent survey of the artistic worlds of Moscow, Leningrad, and other Soviet cities during the neo-Stalinist deep freeze."David Remnick, The New York Review of Books

"McPhee has created a styleblending detailed reporting with a novelistic sense of narrativeand a standard that have influenced a whole generation of journalists."Timothy Bay, The Baltimore Sun

"Dissident Soviet painters and sculptorsharassed and spied on by the KGB, their works shown clandestinely or in rare public exhibitsfound an ally in Norton Dodge, a University of Maryland economics professor who smuggled their works to the West beginning in the early 1960s. On frequent trips to the Soviet Union, the awkward, gutsy, Oklahoma-born art enthusiast visited the homes of underground artists and spent a fortune to buy some 8,000 works by 600 artists. His collection, with styles ranging from Pop to abstract expressionism, was recently donated to Rutgers University. Interspersed with color art reproductions, McPhee's engaging narrative sheds light on this suppressed creative milieu. The prolific author also tracked down emigre Soviet artists now living in the United States, and [in this book] he ponders the West's relative indifference to their rebellious art."Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

In a suspenseful, chilling, and fascinating report like no other, bestselling author John McPhee investigates the plight of dissident Soviet artists and the American professor, Norton Dodge, who smuggled their work abroad. 40 color plates.

Synopsis:

In the 1960s and 1970s, an American professor of Soviet economics forayed on his own in the Soviet Union, bought the work of underground “unofficial” artists, and brought it out himself or arranged to have it illegally shipped to the United States. Norton Dodge visited the apartments of unofficial artists in at least a dozen geographically scattered cities. By 1977, he had a thousand works of art. His ultimate window of interest involved the years from 1956 to 1986, and through his established contacts he eventually acquired another eight thousand works—by far the largest collection of its kind.

John McPhee investigates Dodges clandestine activities in the service of dissident Soviet art, his motives for his work, and the fates of several of the artists whose lives he touched. The Ransom of Russian Art is a suspenseful, chilling, and fascinating report on a covert operation like no other. It offers unprecedented insight into Soviet culture at the brink of the Unions collapse.

About the Author

John McPhee was born in Princeton, New Jersey, and was educated at Princeton University and Cambridge University. His writing career began at Time magazine and led to his long association with The New Yorker, where he has been a staff writer since 1965. The same year he published his first book, A Sense of Where You Are, with FSG, and soon followed with The Headmaster (1966), Oranges (1967), The Pine Barrens (1968), A Roomful of Hovings and Other Profiles (collection, 1969), The Crofter and the Laird (1969), Levels of the Game (1970), Encounters with the Archdruid (1972), The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed (1973), The Curve of Binding Energy (1974), Pieces of the Frame (collection, 1975), and The Survival of the Bark Canoe (1975). Both Encounters with the Archdruid and The Curve of Binding Energy were nominated for National Book Awards in the category of science.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374524500
Author:
McPhee, John
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Author:
McPhee, John
Subject:
General
Subject:
History - General
Subject:
Russia (pre & post Soviet Union)
Subject:
Soviet Union
Subject:
Art, russian
Subject:
Dissident art
Subject:
History : General
Subject:
Art patronage
Subject:
Dissident art -- Soviet Union.
Subject:
Dodge, Norton T - Art patronage
Subject:
Art-History and Criticism
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
19980131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
192
Dimensions:
8 x 5 x 0.455 in 0.62 lb

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Europe General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Russian

The Ransom of Russian Art New Trade Paper
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Product details 192 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374524500 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , In a suspenseful, chilling, and fascinating report like no other, bestselling author John McPhee investigates the plight of dissident Soviet artists and the American professor, Norton Dodge, who smuggled their work abroad. 40 color plates.
"Synopsis" by ,
In the 1960s and 1970s, an American professor of Soviet economics forayed on his own in the Soviet Union, bought the work of underground “unofficial” artists, and brought it out himself or arranged to have it illegally shipped to the United States. Norton Dodge visited the apartments of unofficial artists in at least a dozen geographically scattered cities. By 1977, he had a thousand works of art. His ultimate window of interest involved the years from 1956 to 1986, and through his established contacts he eventually acquired another eight thousand works—by far the largest collection of its kind.

John McPhee investigates Dodges clandestine activities in the service of dissident Soviet art, his motives for his work, and the fates of several of the artists whose lives he touched. The Ransom of Russian Art is a suspenseful, chilling, and fascinating report on a covert operation like no other. It offers unprecedented insight into Soviet culture at the brink of the Unions collapse.

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