Galeria Współczesna, Warsaw, Poland

Coming a few months before better-known exhibits at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and the Hayward Gallery in London, this was perhaps the first show which attempted to map the Russian and Soviet avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s. It was a ‘group work’ curated by a number of Polish art historians, writers and critics with close personal ties with pre-war modernism. Some supplied exhibits from their own collections. Most had spent the war years in the Soviet Union and had been loyal supporters of the communist regime which took power in Poland in the late 1940s, only to break with the party during the Thaw.

The show was an attempt to rehabilitate the radical and revolutionary credentials of the avant-garde after the crisis of Stalinism – a theme which appears to have triggered some anxiety on the part of the authorities in Poland. While the show was an expert and committed response to the challenge of mapping Russian Futurism of the 1910s and the Suprematism and Constructivism of the decade after the October Revolution, it has been largely forgotten, overshadowed by the conflict and crisis which was felt in Poland n March 1968 when a conservative wing of the party sought to suppress student activism.