When Estonia fell under Soviet rule in 1940, art became heavily censored. That was the case with “major” art forms like painting and writing, at least, but the apparatchiks largely ignored printmaking. In retrospect this seems ironic, given how the medium is suited to mass production and has a history as a tool of dissent. That’s exactly the point of this exhibition; culled from a collection at Rutgers University, its forty-one works from 1922–91 range from the surreal folk art of Jüri Arrak to the geometrical abstractions of Leonhard Lapin and Raul Meel—clear evidence of how artists in this medium persisted and even thrived under the radar of state-sanctioned Socialist Realism. The exhibit’s highlight and its clearest critique of force-fed Russian culture are Vello Vinn’s scathing, Ernst-like photomontages. The show runs simultaneously with (and is fittingly located a floor beneath ) an exhibit of Russian Impressionism.
Museum of Russian Art, 5500 Stevens Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-821-9045.