Opening: Saturday, January 14, 2017
Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art, believed to be the country’s only art gallery dedicated exclusively to showing political art, opens its Second Inaugural Exhibition this week, an exhibit of Soviet and American political art curated to remind Americans of the long history of repression of political rights and artistic freedom in both the Soviet Union and the Russian Federation.
The exhibit also seeks to warn those who see it that, given the threats he made during his campaign and the growing uncertainty about the validity and legitimacy of his election, this country may face similar repressive measures should Donald Trump, an admirer of Russian President Vladimir Putin and beneficiary of Putin’s political support, be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States.
“This exhibit is meant to caution those who say ‘it can’t happen here’ to be careful,” says Charles Krause, the gallery’s founding director and curator of its upcoming exhibit. “Why? Because I fear they’re wrong. As with unlimited and reported political campaign contributions, torture, secret national security courts and the possession of concealed and semi-automatic weapons, what’s illegal one day can be made legal the next.”
The exhibition, titled The Age of Acquire’us? Soviet and American Political Art from the Cold War to the Putin-Trump Cyber-Cooperation Pact, opens to the public on Saturday, January 14th and will remain on display through the first week of March. It includes rare Soviet Era propaganda art from the 1950’s and 1960’s; works by Soviet Non-Conformist artists Vladimir Nemukhin, Maxim Kantor and Leonhard Lapin, among others; and contemporary American political art, including two computerized assemblages by KM Ramich, critical of the President-elect’s disregard for factual information, lack of transparency with regard to the sources of his income and wealth and the growing inequality of income in the United States that his choices for Cabinet positions show little interest in working to change.
Krause, an Emmy Award-winning former Washington Post and MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour foreign correspondent and advi-sor to Russian businessman turned dissident, Mik- hail Khodorkovsky, founded his Washington gallery in 2011 to show what he calls The Art of Social and Political Change.
The art he’s assembled for The Age of Acquire’us exhibit, he says, reflects his long-held view that Trump’s authoritarian character, irresponsible repetition of factually untrue statements; poor judgment, thin skin and suspect relationship with Putin—including the possibility the President-elect has entered into a secret agreement with, or is being blackmailed by, the Russians—constitute a clear and present danger to the political stability of the United States and could well lead to the kind of harassment and repression of Trump’s opponents Krause witnessed in Argentina during its so-called Dirty War against urban terrorism; in Chile while Pinochet was in power; and the Philippines under Marcos.
“I’ve lived and reported from countries where State-sponsored terror was, and in Russia’s case, continues to be, used to repress political opponents of the regime in power,” Krause said. “In Moscow, I saw, first hand, how Putin’s agents crushed Mikhail Khodorkovsky, murdered Anna Polovskaya and made a mockery of rule of law and human rights.
“Much of the Russian art I collected was created during the Cold War by dissident artists who suffered greatly because they refused to create art in the official Socialist Realism style. What’s so surprising is we all thought the Cold War ended in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed,” Krause says. “But it appears Putin and the Russians were just waiting. And now, they’ve taken their revenge.”
Krause said the title he chose for the exhibit is a deliberate play on words and cultural references related to Trump’s reputation as a hard-nosed deal maker and symbol of the sexual revolution, the Age of Aquarius. The title also reflects Krause’s strong suspicion that Trump had an implicit, if not explicit, pact with Putin. Working together, after Trump’s nomination if not before, they would destroy Hillary Clinton’s reputation to further Putin’s geo-political aims and Trump’s ambition and need for attention and approval.
“There’s only one other way to explain the otherwise inexplicable statements Trump has made continuing to express his admiration for Putin and disparaging the CIA,” Krause says. “It’s possible that in addition to Podesta’s emails, the Russians got Trump’s tax returns—the ones he’s afraid to release—and that he’s being blackmailed.”
The highlights of exhibit, Krause says, include the original artwork for two large propaganda posters from the early to mid-1960’s, the height of the Cold War, by N. Denisovsky; Maxim Kantor’s requiem for the Soviet Union, The Lonely Crowd, an etching from 1992; Leonhard Lapin’s Machine Series drawing from the 1970’s; KM Ramich’s assemblage, State Capture (2016) and Robin Croft’s assemblage, Platform Madrid (2005).
The Age of Acquire’us? Soviet and American Political Art from the Cold War to the Putin-Trump Cyber-Cooperation Pact, opens Saturday, Jan. 14th (through March 10).
- Saturdays and Sundays: 1pm to 6pm
- Weekdays by appointment
Charles Krause/Reporting Fine Art is now located in the DACHA LOFT building, 1602 Seventh Street NW, 2nd floor. For more information, call 202-638-3612 or visit www.charleskrausefineart.com.