Is it time to examine the history of Russian art with a reduced emphasis on, or even beyond, the October Revolution? In Imagining the Unimaginable, the historian Aaron Cohen discusses the transformations in Russian art prior to that upheaval, zooming in on the years of World War I – a period he considers underestimated by art historians in terms of its impact on the changes in local artistic production, vis-à-vis the historical avant-garde and abstraction. In the introduction to this provocative book, Cohen argues that “there were significant developments in wartime life that the memory of the revolution should not obscure” (p. 4). The following five chapters survey the evolution of Russian art – and life – reaching back to the 1860s while focusing on the period between 1914 and 1917. Cohen reacts to the fact that, as the art historian...

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