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234 × 156 mm
272 pages
70 illustrations, 60 in colour
21 Jun 2012

Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe Piotr Piotrowski

The conclusion of the Cold War in 1989 signalled the beginning of a new era in Eastern Europe, and this widespread change was felt no less strongly in the world of art. In Art and Democracy in Post-Communist Europe, Piotr Piotrowski examines the art made after 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe in light of the profound political, social, economic and cultural transformations in the region.

As well as discussing these alterations, Piotrowski describes the changing nature of artworks themselves - from work moulded by the cultural imperatives of the communist state, used as a tool of political propaganda, to autonomous work protesting against and resisting the ruling powers. He describes the rich tradition of anarchistic motifs and themes of protest in Eastern European art, and the emergence of a utopian vision in more recent times. The discussion includes themes of communist memory; the critique of nationalism; issues of gender after 1989; and the representation of historic trauma in contemporary museology, going on to discuss the recent foundation of museums of contemporary art in Bucharest, Tallinn and Warsaw. The function of art in post-communist Europe is assessed, as well as its restrictions and hidden censorship mechanisms.

Throughout the book the author provides close readings of numerous artists, many new to a Western audience, such as Ilya Kabakov and Krzysztof Wodiczko, and Marina Abramovic's work responding to the atrocities of the Balkans. This cogent investigation of the artistic reorientation of the former Communist Bloc breaks important new ground, and fills a major gap in contemporary artistic and political discourse.

‘impressively informative and thoughtful . . . Of particular interest is the author’s analysis of artistic interpretations of national, ethnic, and personal crises that followed the 1989 collapse of the communist order. Recommended’ – Choice

‘Ever attentive to topographical variations, Piotrowski carefully attends the particularities of the art scene in each different country. The resulting map of contemporary East European Art is impressive’  – TLS

‘Piotr Piotrowski’s investigation into the relationship between art, politics and public space in postcommunist Europe is impressive in scope, artistically, theoretically and geographically. Its publication in English represents an important contribution to discussions of artistic practices in the former Eastern Bloc, as well as to theories of space in art history and scholarship more generally . . .
Art and Democracy is a thought-provoking contribution to a number of fields . . . highly readable, and Piotrowski’s style is entertaining and engaging. The inclusion of photographs aids the reader immeasurably in visualizing the complex interactions Piotrowski describes between artists and the public space.’  – Journal of Contemporary European Studies

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Piotr Piotrowski is Professor of Art History at Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Art after Politics (2007) and In the Shadow of Yalta: Art and the Avant-garde in Eastern Europe, 1945-1989 (Reaktion, 2009).