mind you of Rembrandt, earnest andndreamlike; in Derain; in a Vlamincknlandscape (1909) with cypress treesnwhich move like flames into the sky.nAmong the propaganda posters (therenis one of Lenin standing on a globensweeping away monarchs, judges andnbusinessmen) rises Naum Gabo’s wonderousnColumn (1917), strong butntransparent (you can see through it, unlikenancient columns), fearless but soft,ntrue to the simple strength of ancientnart, as if oblivious to all our strugglesnwith perception since Masaccio.nThis show tells too of the courage ofncollectors, especially of two Russianncollectors before the First World War,nIvan Morozov and Serge Shichukin. Itnis the eagerness and the courage of theirneyes that selected works that often hadnbeen just painted, that makes you wondernwhether you have ever looked at thenmasters you thought you knew. Facednwith work too fresh to suffer the beguilementnof aesthetic theories, theynchose pictures in which life and naturenwas palpable.nThe exhibition begins with a spacenthat looks like a great house on movingnday in Moscow in the decades before thenBolsheviks seized power. In the centernstands a great Bonnard triptych (1911),ncalled Mediteranee, commissioned bynMorozov. In the spaces about the Bonnardnthere is furniture and frilly, formalnlong dresses, faded, brittle-looking as ifnthey had just been brought to light afternseventy-five years in a trunk. All aboutnthere are contemporary portraits of importantnindividuals, skillful but woodennand without conviction, suggesting anworld without fight in it. Bonnard’s picture,nwhich has something of the glownof the sky itself, makes you feel you arenlooking through a window that opens onnthe faraway Mediterranean, but also onnthe past. These pictures have not beennseen for over forty years, either in thenWest or in the Soviet Union (the Russianncollectors before 1917, in contrast,nopened their houses to the public oncena week). The overwhelming impressionnis of breaking into a past which althoughnin its Russian, that is in itsnEuropean dimension, is completely unknownnto us, is much closer than wenthink.nThis show is really about the unrememberednRussian painters before thenFirst World War who knew how to copenwith Paris. Theirs is unabashed work,nwork that does not attempt to hide itsnawkwardness, its false starts, its errors,nits awe. Sometimes dull in its reverence,nfor instance, for Cezanne (Ilia Machkov),nit never reminds you of forgeries.nThese painters knew something aboutnlearning without being students: theynknew how to teach themselves; they hadntheir own eyes. Among many dull Russianncubists, there are some (especiallynIvan Klioun) who could subordinate thenmethodical, intellectual dissection inncubism to seeing Paris in a way that,nperhaps, only Juan Gris could.nBut then all this stops, the energy andnthe courage disappears. You have ansense that there had been more life thannanybody could stand. Disingenuously,nthe exhibition (which is sponsored bynthe Soviet Ministry of Cultural Affairsnand the French government) suggestsna parallel between the brutal appearancenof Soviet “socialist realism” and thenmove away from cubism in France, forninstance, Picasso’s statuesque nudes.nThe “socialist realist” canvases are asnugly as you would expect, but more cunning.nPainters who in 1918 paintednsolid cubist paintings, painted “ThenDeath of the Commissar” in 1928.nThere is an unwilling hardness, an unacknowledgednbitterness in their worknwhich repels you and makes you hold ancautious distance. There are desperatenreminiscences of earlier times whenneyes saw, for instance, Derain’snSamedi (about 1913), but they arentoo resigned to be sorrowful. To paintna bunch of flowers becomes an act ofndefiance you barely dare to look at.nThere are breathtaking exceptions: anman named Pavel Filonov who, in 1928,npainted strong canvases without a hintnof propaganda. And again Malevitch,nnnmost of whose work lies imprisoned innSoviet storage. (The catalogue does notnmention his arrest in 1929 for “spying”nfor Germany where he had an exhibitionnin 1925.)nThe Soviet regime has said it willnshow the exhibition (unchanged?) innRussia in 1981—which is hard to believe.nThe work of the Russian paintersnin exile after 1917 is shown elsewherenin Paris, because the French governmentnyielded to a Soviet demand not toninclude it in the exhibition. The Frenchngovernment did not allow an importantnpublic discussion of this troubling,nsomewhat evasive show to take place atnits site, “Beaubourg.” Siniavsky is reportednto have wept as he went through it.nA recent Polish film of AndrzejnWajda, Les demoiselles de Wilko, whichnis drawing crowds in Paris, helps to copenwith the “Paris-Moscow” exhibition.nIn their thirst to experience somethingnof life in Poland, French audiences appearnto know what their leaders fear tonacknowledge, that it is not good to talknof Europe without mentioning the othernEurope, especially Poland, for whichnEngland and France allegedly went tonwar. Boring but uncomfortable, Wajda’snmovie implies more than it states—withnthe ambiguity not of art but of prudence.nA man in his late thirties, on leavenfrom his job as a supervisor, returns inn1954 to the country of his youth, whichnhe had left for the last time in 1939 fornthe war. He returns to an aunt and uncle,nbut above all to a family of sisters whonhad all been drawn to him. His returnnis as if from the dead; he barely recognizesnthem. He does not know that onenof the sisters he loved died soon afternhe left her in 1939. He does not feelnconvincing surprise, not to speak of griefnat the news. The scenes are unsettlingnbecause of the absence of emotions andnbecause of the director’s unwillingnessnto cope with its absence. The man existsnas if he had no past. His references tonthe past are furtive. His manner isnbored, resigned. Embarassment becomesnmmm^^^mm^^^?^nSeptember/October 1979n