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Eva Pluhařová-Grigienė on Unearthing the legacies of art historiography during the Post-War decades

29 January 2021

Unearthing the legacies of art historiography during the Post-War decades

Review of:

A Socialist Realist History? Writing Art History in the Post-War Decades edited by Krista Kodres, Kristina Jõekalda, Michaela Marek, Wien, Köln, Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2019, 279 pp., 35 b/w illustrations, ISBN 978-3-412-51161-6 (=Robert Born, Michaela Marek, Ada Raev: Das östliche Europa: Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, vol. 9)

Eva Pluhařová-Grigienė (Europa-Universität Flensburg, Germany) 24/EPG1

Abstract: A Socialist Realist History? Writing Art History in the Post-War Decades, edited by Krista Kodres, Kristina Jõekalda, and the late Michaela Marek, is of definitive interest to art historians and scholars of intellectual history of Europe for giving insight into the diverse ways in which art and architectural historians  across socialist Central and Eastern Europe engaged with Marxism-Leninism. The wide-ranging contributions reveal that even during Stalinism the discourse on Socialist art history was never static. Slow to modernize during the ensuing Thaw, this discourse evolved in diverse ways within different academic environments. The book makes a highly valuable contribution to the study of art historiography in socialist Europe, deepening our understanding of the complexity and processuality of the discipline’s development, and underlining the need for further in-depth studies. Apart from its interest to art historians, the contributions clearly express the need for a thorough revision of how deeply contemporary art historical research has been shaped by the socialist legacy, particularly with regard to less obvious path dependencies such as methodological approaches.

Key words: Post-war, Thaw, Socialism, Marxism-Leninism, East Central Europe, Socialist-Realism

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