March 5

Joseph Stalin dies.

March 9

Numerous people crushed to death during Stalin’s funeral in Moscow. Stalin’s body is embalmed and placed in Lenin’s Mausoleum.


March 27

About 1.2 million people freed in an amnesty, about half the prisoners in labor camps.

June 17

«Berlin Uprising.” Massive anti-government demonstrations in the GDR. Police and Soviet tanks are deployed against the protesters. At least 125 killed, about 20,000 are arrested.


August 12

USSR officially announces the detonation of its first hydrogen bomb at the Semipalatinsk testing ground. Beginning of the period of escalation of the Cold War, between the USA and USSR (until 1962). The Soviet leadership, convinced of US determination to launch a nuclear war and  to be planning a Hiroshima-type bombing in the USSR, begins to increase Soviet military potential.

April 21


June 26

Arrest of Lavrenty Beria, Party and state leader and organizer of persecutions. He was charged with espionage on behalf of Britain and other countries and the restoration of capitalism. Beria becomes a symbol of evil and state violence in the public mind. On December 23, he is sentenced to death and executed the same day.

September 7

Nikita Khrushchev becomes head of state. His assuming of the post of First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union is characterized by a certain liberalization of the regime, a relative democratization of political and social life, and openness to the West. This period in Soviet history is called "the Thaw."

January 25

Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet issues a decree “On the Cessation of the State of War Between the Soviet Union and Germany,” formally ending World War II.

May 14

Formation of Warsaw Pact Organization. USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Hungry, GDR, Poland, Romania, Czechoslovakia sign the Warsaw Pact (on friendship, cooperation and mutual aid); it creates a military union of European states with the Soviet Union in a leading role and reinforces the bipolarity of the world.

February 25

Nikita Khrushchev gives a report “On the Cult of Personality and its Consequences” at the XX Congress of the Soviet Communist Party.  NKVD archives opened with facts of provocations, abuse, torture, fabrication of cases against communists, mass oppression against Army officials, on the “villainous murder of Sergei Kirov,” those innocently killed during  the “Leningrad Affair,” the Migrel case, the “Doctor’s Plot,” etc. Khrushchev testifies about the abuses of Stalin, his megalomania, and argues that he had deviated from Lenin’s Party line. The report was first published in full in 1989.


March 5

Rally in Tbilisi dedicated to Stalin’s memory. Force used against demonstrators, troops opened fire, killing 15, wounding 54, many arrested and tried.


Hungarian Revolution against the Soviet-backed regime. Crushed by Soviet troops, as a result of which more than 2,652 Hungarian citizens are killed, and the Soviet Army loses 669 soldiers.


Rehabilitation of exiled ethnic groups continues. By January 1957, five of the total number of exiled populations who previously were autonomous are allowed to resume their statehood (except Germans and Crimean Tatars).

Returned Soviet World War II prisoners of war who were sent to labor camps (almost 3.5 million people) are released.

May 13

Khrushchev speaks at the board meeting of the USSR Union of Writers, reprimanding literary people for perceiving criticism of Stalin "one-sidedly." At a Supreme Soviet session devoted to the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution, Khrushchev reports that "the Party has combated and will continue to combat all those who


would defame Stalin, who under the guise of criticism of the cult of personality incorrectly, distortedly depict the entire historical period of activity of our Party, when the head of the Central Committee was I.V. Stalin..As a dedicated Marxist-Leninist and staunch revolutionary, Stalin will take his deserved place in history…”


Khrushchev advances the slogan "Catch Up and Overtake America in Production of Meat and Milk Products in Two-Three Years".

January 27

Declaration at the XXI Soviet Communist Party Congress of the final victory of socialism and the transition to the building of communism, the onset of which Khrushchev expects within the next decades.

July 24

Meeting of Nikita Khrushchev, Chairman of the USSR Council of Ministers with Richard Nixon, Vice President of the USA at the opening of the American National Exhibition in Sokolniki Park in Moscow. This public conversation was dubbed “the kitchen debates." The heads of state appeared in the roles “advocate of communism” and “advocate of capitalism."


September 15-28

Khrushchev’s visit to the USA, the first time that the head of not only the Russian but the Soviet government makes an official visit to America.

Introduction of criminal code article for “Anti-Soviet Agitation”. From 1966, another article introduced,  “Dissemination of Deliberately False Fabrications Defaming the Soviet State and Social Order." From 1960-1987, more than 8,000 people are sentenced under this article. In addition, other articles are used for the criminal persecution of dissidents: “Violation of laws on the separation of church and state and school and church”; “Creation of groups that cause harm to citizens’ health”; also articles on “parasitism” and “violation of the passport regimen."

January 13

Liquidation of the GULAG system. Yet the system of labor camps is preserved, and they are re-named “corrective labor colonies."

October 12

Speaking at a UN session, Nikita Khrushchev beats a shoe on his delegate desk and threateningly shouts at the American delegation: “I will teach you a lesson!”

April 12

Gagarin flies in outer space; Vostok spaceship launches from the Baikonur cosmodrome. This day is declared a USSR holiday, Cosmonauts’ Day.

August 13

Erection of the Berlin wall. The existence in Berlin of a Western sector not under control of the GDR was a factor of instability for the East German government. In July about 1,000 people were escaping from East Berlin to West Berlin every day.

October 10

Instructions go into effect “On Emergency Hospitalization of Psychiatrically Ill Persons Presenting a Danger to Society." Legal, theoretical and material basis is created to misuse psychiatry by the state for punitive purposes against dissidents.

October 31

Stalin’s body is removed from the Mausoleum and buried in a grave at the Kremlin Wall.


Cuban Missile Crisis. Within a few days, Soviet nuclear missiles are deployed on Cuban territory. The US imposes a blockade on Cuba which under international law is an act of war. Warsaw Pact armed forces, and then the US are put into a state of increased combat readiness. The world was on the brink of nuclear war. Through complex negotiations, the crisis was settled, Soviet missiles dismantled after which the beginning of détente in international relations ensued.

June 2

Shooting in Novocherkassk of workers demonstrating in outrage against reduction of wages. Twenty-four people are killed.

October 14

As a result of a plot at the plenary of the Central Committee, Khrushchev is relieved of his state and Party positions. Leonid Brezhnev became the First Secretary of the Communist Party Central Committee. The official formulation for Khrushchev’s departure is: “in connection with advanced age and deterioration of health.”

The beginning of the “stagnation period."

This covers the period in the history of the USSR from the moment Leonid Brezhnev came to power until 1987. This period is characterized by stagnation in the economy, and also an increase in ideological control and crackdown on dissent. For the first time, a high Party state figure is removed from his post with observation of lawful procedures.

January 11

The USSR abolished customs duties on imports from developing countries.

50th Anniversary of the October Socialist Revolution. Numerous events are timed to this date in the Soviet Union, mass holidays are organized.

During a trip to India, Svetlana Allilueva, daughter of Stalin, requests political asylum at the American Embassy.

August 21

Warsaw Pact troops invade Czechoslovakia. About 100 civilians are killed.

August 28

One of the most significant actions of Soviet dissidents against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops is held in Moscow. Participants are Larisa Bogoraz, Natalya Gorbanevskaya, Vadim Delone, Vladimir Demlyuga, Pavel Litvinov and Viktor Fainberg. They stage a sit-in demonstration on Red Square at Lobnoye Mesto. The demonstrators are sentenced to various terms of prison.

Increase in cases of extra-judicial psychiatric punishment.

November 17, Helsinki

The first series of Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, SALT I, begin as the USSR and USA take initial steps to check the rivalry in their most powerful land-and submarine-based offensive nuclear weapons.

Open letter by Academicians Andrei Sakharov, Valentin Turchin and Roy Medvedev to the Soviet leadership with a call to undertake democratization of the regime.

In Moscow at the Central Telegram Building, 30 Jewish refuseniks from the Baltics stage a hunger strike for the first time for the right to emigrate to Israel.

50th Anniversary of the formation of the USSR.

May 22-30

Nixon visits the USSR. First official visit of a president in office to Moscow in the entire history of relations between the two countries.

February 16

During a change of Party documents in the USSR, card no. 1 is registered to Lenin, and No. 2 to Brezhnev.

Leonid Brezhnev is awarded the title of General of the Army.

First joint flight of Soviet and American spaceships Soyuz 19 and Apollo.


Exchange of political prisoners between the USSR and USA. Dissident Vladimir Bukovsky is exchanged for Luis Corvalan, leader of the Chilean Communist Party.

June 4

The text of the new USSR Constitution is published for “national discussion."

General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev is bestowed the Victory Award, which is normally given only during wartime for successful command of the front.

December 25

USSR invades Afghanistan. From 1979-1989, 243,900 government supporters are killed. The exact number of all those killed in the war in Afghanistan is not known. Often the figure of one million is seen. On the Soviet side, 15,031 people were killed. About 620,000 Soviet soldiers went through Afghanistan in 10 years.

End of the policy of détente.

Development of the “Star Wars” anti-ballistic missile program in the USA.

January 3

Declaration by US President Jimmy Carter on the suspension of ties with the USSR, and the intention to boycott the Olympics in Moscow.

July 19

Opening of the XXII Summer Olympic Games in Moscow. Entry to the capital is limited, young people are sent to rest camps, alcoholics to work therapy facilities, and the shelves in the stores were filled as never before.

More than 50 countries boycotted the Olympics.

Martial law declared in Poland (December 13, 1981-July 22, 1983), a dictatorship declared by General Wojcech Jaruzelski to combat the Solidarity movement.

December 10

Death of Leonid Brezhnev. Yuri Andropov, for many years chief of the KGB, becomes General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

On September 1, 1983, Korean Air Lines passenger Flight 007 is downed by Soviet fighter planes while flying in Soviet airspace.

Among the 269 victims is Larry MacDonald, a US congressman.

The incident provokes a serious aggravation of already complicated relations between the USSR and USA.

February 9

Yuri Andropov dies. Konstantin Chernenko becomes General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

March 10

Konstantin Chernenko dies.

March 11

Mikhail Gorbachev becomes General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, the beginning of the last stage of USSR history, which was named “Perestroika.”

April 26

Chernobyl Disaster.  The first report about the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station appears in the Soviet media only on April 27, 36 hours after the explosion; the news reader at the Pripyatsk Radio Broadcasting Network reports the round-up and temporary evacuation of the inhabitants of the city.

After reports come about significant increase in background radiation from Sweden, Denmark, and Finland, on April 28, 1986, at 21:00 hours, TASS releases a brief statement: "At the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station an accident has occurred. One of the reactors was damaged. Measures are being taken to eliminate the consequences of the incident. The victims have been given the necessary assistance. A government commission has been created to investigate the incident."

Beginning of Perestroika

At the January plenary of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee, Gorbachev gives a report "On Perestroika and Party Personnel Policy." In international policy, a course is set to reject the class approach to diplomacy and improve relations with the West, a policy which is called "new thinking." The main ideas of the new foreign policy course are formulated by Gorbachev in his book Perestroika and New Thinking for Our Country and the World, published in 1987.

May 28

Mathias Rust, a teenage amateur pilot from West Germany, lands his small plane on Red Square in Moscow after flying from Helsinki through Soviet air defenses as the country celebrated the Day of the Border Guard. The commander-in-chief of the USSR Air Defense Forces and other high-ranking military leaders are fired.

November 29-December 1

Decision of the USSR Supreme Soviet on political reforms: change in the structure of the highest bodies of government, establishment of the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR, introduction of elections with alternative candidates.

XIX All Union Soviet Communist Party Conference passes a resolution "On Glasnost" which contains a demand to draft legislation defining the rights and duties of the state, officials and citizens according to the realization of the principles of glasnost: “To create a system to constantly and fully inform the workers on the state of affairs at plants, in the village or city, region, republic and country, to legally enforce the right of citizens, mass media, labor collects and social organizations to receive information of interest to them.”

February 15

Withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.


Construction of the building of Moscow State University completed, one of the seven buildings in Moscow known as “Stalin High-Rises” -- an example of the monumental style in architecture which was popularized in the USSR and the countries of the socialist camp in the period of Stalin’s rule.

The last of the high-rises, the Ukraina Hotel, was completed in 1957.


One of the first “independent artists,” Yuri Vasiliev (MON) writes his dissertation “Return from Labor Camp” upon leaving the Surikov Moscow State Art Institute.  The work is displayed at an exhibit of diploma works at the Academy of Arts.



November 4

Decree of the Soviet Communist Party and USSR Council of Ministers “On the Elimination of Excesses in Design and Construction.”

Ilya Ehrenburg writes the novel  The Thaw, which provides the term for the whole Soviet era.

March 10

Memorandum of Alexander Mikhailovich Gerasimov,  President of the USSR Academy of Arts, on the “reanimation of unhealthy, formalist sentiments” in visual arts.


Artists’ House, Kuznetsky Most, no. 20,second exhibit of works of young Moscow artists including: Vladimir Veisberg, Dmitri Krasnopevtsev, Ernst Neizvestny, Vadim Sidur, Vladimir Lemport, Nikolai Silis.

October 26

First exhibit of Pablo Picasso in the USSR at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

Lev Kropivnitsky returns from labor camp. The artist creates his first abstract works.

Ülo Sooster released from labor camp, Boris Sveshnikov rehabilitated.

Refusal of editorial board of Novy Mir to print Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago.

Construction begins of the frame-panel residential buildings with small apartments which came to be known popularly as khrushchevki, a play on the name “Khrushchev” and the Russian word for “slums." Districts with five-story panel buildings without “architectural excesses” appear throughout the entire territory of the USSR.

Pasternak, not hoping for a rapid publication of his novel Doctor Zhivago in the USSR, sends a copy of the manuscript through the journalist Sergei D’Angelo to the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli.

Presidium of the Soviet Communist Party Central Committee on December 19, 1956, approves the text of a letter from the Communist Party Central Committee  “On the Intensification of Political Work of Party Organizations in the Masses and Suppression of  Attacks by Anti-Soviet Hostile Elements," which states: "Recently among certain literary and art workers who have slipped from Party positions, who are politically immature and narrow-minded, attempts have appeared to subject to doubt the correctness of the Party line in development of Soviet literature and art, departing from principles of Soviet realism to positions of art devoid of ideology, and advancing demands to ‘free’ literature and art from Party leadership, ensure ‘freedom of creativity,’ understood in the bourgeois-anarchist, individualist spirit."

Formation of the Lianozovo Group, an informal union of poets and artists (Yevgeny Kropivnitsky, Olga Potapova, Valentina Kropivnitskaya, Lev Kropivnitsky, Oskar Rabin, Vladimir Nemukhin, Lydia Masterkova, Nikolai Vechtomov, Igor Kholin and others), becoming one of the informal centers of cultural life in Moscow in the early 1960s.

Vladimir Slepyan arrives in Moscow from Leningrad.  Shows the works of Oleg Tselkov not only at home in his apartment, but literally "on himself," taking the works around to collectors. Begins work as an artist.

First apartment exhibits in Moscow. The first shows take place at the home of physicist A. Rokotyan (works of I. Kulis, a student of  Slepyan) and at the home of Slepyan (works of  Tselkov).

The practice of apartment shows begins, due to harsh restrictions by the authorities at presentation of "unofficial" art. Often the only possible form was a "dialogue with the viewer," which ultimately grew into an "underground" movement with its own organizational infrastructure. This becomes a tradition in Soviet and Russian modern art. Later exhibits: George Costakis shows Anatoly Zverev; Andrei Volkonsky exhibits Vladimir Yakovlev. Tsirlin shows the works of Lydia Masterkova, Dmitri Plavinsky. Nina Stevens shows Vasily Sitnikov,  Plavinsky and others.

VI All-Union Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow. A vivid event of the Khrushchev "Thaw" that lifted the Iron Curtain briefly. In connection with the Festival, there is a show of the works of Western contemporary artists, and for the first time Russian artists see the modern movements in figurative art. Among the participants from the USSR: Plavinsky, Rabin, Chuikov, Erik Bulatov and others.

Beginning of the abstract period in the work of  Masterkova,  Potapova,  Vladimir Nemukhin.

French gallery owner Daniel Cormier visits Moscow. He views the works of Moscow artists involved in independent art: Slepyan, Yuri Zlotnikov, Oleg Prokofiev, Igor Shelkovsky. Organizes exhibit that year for Slepyan in Paris.

Premier of the art film by Mikhail Kalagozov, “The Cranes Are Flying," which gains world recognition and a number of international awards.

In August, Pasternak asks Feltrinelli not to take into account new “prohibitions” on his part to the publication of his novel, asking “that the book come out, no matter what happens."

Doctor Zhivago published in Milan on November 23, 1957.


Exhibit of Dmitri Plavinsky at Moscow State University (under the guise of a student at the university art studio).

Simultaneous shows in the exhibition hall at the Moscow Section of the Union of Artists, in which at various times Veisberg, Mikhail Miturich,  Neizvestny and others take part.

Kabakov, Bulatov, Oleg Vassiliev study at the studio of Robert Falk.

March 18

First International Tchaikovsky Competition of Pianists and Violinists opens in Moscow. Musician Van Cliburn of the USA wins first place among pianists.

Slepyan emigrates to France via Poland. First emigration of an artist of the “unofficial art."

October 23

Pasternak wins the Nobel Prize for Literature.

October 29

Pasternak renounces the Nobel Prize.

October 31

Resolution of a general meeting of writers in Moscow "On the Removal of Soviet Citizenship of the Traitor B. Pasternak." Onset of campaign of criticism of the writer known as "I didn't read it, but I denounce it!"

At Sokolniki Park in Moscow, American National Exhibition opens. The latest achievements of American industry are demonstrated.  In connection with this exhibition, American contemporary art is shown including the works of Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Arshile Gorky, Edward Hopper, and Yves Tanguy.

August 3-7

First International Film Festival in Moscow

Veisberg teaches painting at the USSR Union of Architects’ studio for improving qualification. “Veisberg School” continues until 1984.

November 26

Exhibit at Tsirlin’s apartment. Works of Plavinsky are shown.

Exhibition complex at Sokolniki. French National Exhibition. Moscow public sees the works of Chaim Soutine, Bernard Buffet, Pablo Picasso,  Pierre Soulages, and others.

Exhibit at the apartment of Alexander Ginzburg. The paintings of  Veisberg, Nikolai Vechtomov, Lev Kropivnitsky, Lev Nusberg are shown.

Salon of Vadim Kozhinov. Exhibit of the works of Lev Kropivnitsky.

Exhibit by Dmitri Krasnopevtsev at the apartment of Sviatoslav Richter.

December 1

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Moscow Section of the Union of Artists, an exhibit titled "The New Reality" was organized at the Manezh in which the works of independent artists were included. General Secretary Khrushchev personally visited the exhibition on December 1, accompanied by Mikhail Suslov, chief ideologue of the Communist Party, and Ekaterina Furtseva, USSR Minister of Culture. Khrushchev dressed down the avant-garde artists, breaking into vulgarities about the "talentless daubing.” "As for art, I am a Stalinist," he said.

"This is pederasty in art! So I'm telling you, why should pederasts get 10 years of prison, but these ones get a prize?" Khrushchev said.

On the second floor are displayed the works of Ülo Sooster, Vladimir Yankilevsky, Neizvestny and Yuri Nolev-Sovolev, works of the Ely Bilyutin school.

Also subjected to criticism are the works of Falk, Alexander Drevin, David Shterenberg, Appolinary Vasnetsov, Alla Pologova, Nikolai Andronov, Pavel Nikonov,  Neizvestny.

As a result of the scandal, a campaign is launched in the USSR to combat formalism and abstractionism.

December 17

First meeting of Party and government representatives with the creative intelligentsia at a government dacha in Lenin Hills.

Second meeting takes place in Sverdlovsk Hall at the Kremlin.

In the 1960s, the term “dissident” becomes current to signify representatives of the opposition movement in the USSR and countries of Eastern Europe.

Emergence of the Movement (Dvizhenie) group, reviving the tradition of constructivism and based on the principle of kineticism. It includes:  Francisco Infante-Arana, Alexander Grigoriev, Alexander Krivchikov, Vladimir Akulinin, Vladimir Shcherbakov, Rimma Zanevskaya, Mikhail Dorokhov, Viktor Stepanov, Vladimir Galkin and others. The chair is Lev Nusberg. The association exists until 1977.

January 8

Vecherny Leningrad (Evening Leningrad) publishes a selection of letters from readers with demands to punish “the parasite” Joseph Brodsky.

On February 13, the poet Brodsky is arrested and accused of parasitism.

March 13

At the second court session, Brodsky is sentenced to the maximum possible term under the criminal code article on “parasitism” -- five years of forced labor in a remote area. He is sent to Arkhangelsk region. A year and a half later, the sentence is repealed under the pressure of the world community (in particular, after an appeal to the Soviet government from Jean-Paul Sartre and a number of other foreign writers.)

June 8-28

Grosvenor Gallery, London, England

Exhibit “Aspects of Contemporary Soviet Art”

Participants are Neizvestny,  Plavinsky, Rabin


In the Komsomol’s Dzerzhinsky District Committee  Youth Club, at the former Disk Cinema hall, an exhibit is held of the works of Mikhail Chernyshov, Grigory Perchenkov, and Mikhail Roginsky. Roginsky introduces the works, which the poet Genrikh Sapgir calls “Russian Pop Art.” The exhibit is closed after 4 days.

One-man show of Oskar Rabin paintings (1956-1965) Grosvenor Gallery (London), organized by the collector and gallery owner Eric Estorick.

May 3

Exhibit at the Galeria Sztukl Nowoczesnri, Warsaw. Participants:  Veisberg, Anatoly Brusilovsky,  Plavinsky, Sooster,  Vladimir Yankilevsky and others.

May 5

Oxford University awards doctoral degree to Anna Akhmatova as “the greatest  contemporary Russian poet."

Komar and Melamid present their first collaborative work, on history of medal arts, delivered at Historical Museum in Moscow, the Hermitage in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg),


Confiscation of the manuscript of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s First Circle.

September 8

Arrest of Sinyavsky and  Daniel for publishing their works in the West.

November 15

Nobel Prize for Literature awarded to Mikhail Sholokhov.

December 5

First human rights demonstration on Pushkin Square in Moscow. Participants demand an open trial for Sinyavsky and Daniel.

Kurchatov Institute of Atomic Energy House of Culture holds exhibit of the works of Oleg Tselkov.

February 10-14

Trial of Sinyavsky and Daniel, who are sentenced to 5 and 7 years of labor camp under the article “Agitation and Propaganda Conducted for the Purpose of Undermining and Weakening the Soviet Government.”

Show at the apartment of Yevgeny Nutovich, photographer for the Tretyakov Gallery, a collector of non-conformist art.

The works of Rabin, Nemukhin, Kharitonov, Veisberg, Masterkova are shown.


Journal Moskva begins publishing  Mikhail A. Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita.

January 22

Exhibit organized by Alexander Glezer at the Friendship Club on Entusiastov Chausee. Twelve artists take part: Rabin,  Nemukhin, the Kropivnitsky family, Masterkova, Vechtomov,  Zveryev, Plavinsky, Eduard Shteinberg, Valentin Vorobyov. The show is closed two hours after it opens.

Party bureau and local committee of the Décor and Design Workshop denounce Rabin, and “the position of the artist leading a double life and taking part in unofficial exhibits.”

January 8-12

«Trial of the Four” -- Alexander Ginzburg, Yuri Galanskov, Vera Lashkova, Alexander Dobrovolsky, samizdat activists who published a book in defense of Sinyavsky and Daniel.

June 2

Solzhenitsyn completes work on his book The  Gulag Archipelago.


Movement group takes part in the Documenta festival in Kasseler, Germany.

January 19

Start of the publication of the poems of Venedikt Erofeyev Moscow-Petushki (Moscow to the End of the Line) in the journal Sobriety and Life (with censorship).

October 8

Alexander Solzhenitsyn is awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.

Kabakov begins work on the Ten Characters albums.

House of Architects, Moscow

Exhibit of the works of Tselkov (closed 15 minutes after opening).

Artists Komar and Melamid create a series of works titled “Sots Art,” where the chief feature is a parody simulation of the visual language of Soviet agitprop.

The name “Sots Art” emerges by analogy with Western Pop Art through a combination of the two words “socialism” and “art.” It later becomes a trend in modern art.

Exhibit of Giorgio Morandi at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

February 12

Publication of The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn in Paris (a literary research of the Soviet labor camp and prison system from 1918-1956). Immediately afterwards, the writer is arrested, accused of treason to the Motherland, stripped of his Soviet citizenship and exiled from the USSR to West Germany.

June 14

Exhibit at Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

September 2

Initiative Group of artists apply to the Moscow City Council to exhibit in an empty field in Belyayevo. They get neither a refusal nor permission.

September 15


“First Autumn Viewing of Paintings in the Open Air (later to be called the "Bulldozer Exhibit"). Participating are: Oskar Rabin, Alexander Rabin, Yuri Zharkhikh, Yevgeny Rukhin,  Nemukhin, Masterkova, N. Elskaya, Borukh (Boris Shteinberg), Vorobyev, Igor  Kholin, Komar, Melamid, all of whom announced their intentions of showing their works in advance. A dozen other artists also brought their works to the field. Some of the works were destroyed by bulldozers, others were burnt in a bonfire. The works of the following artists were destroyed:  Komar,  Melamid,  Zharkikh, Rabin, Rukhin. Arrested were  Oskar Rabin, Alexander Rabin, Rukhin, Elskaya,  Alexei Tyapushkin, Viktor Tupitsyn

Glezer holds a press conference for foreign correspondents, an event with international resonance.

Under pressure of world public opinion, trying to reduce the sharpness of the conflict, the authorities permit the organization of the next exhibit in Izmailovo Park.

September 29. Izmailovo Forest Park.

«Second Autumn Viewing of Paintings in the Open Air”

Preliminary list of participants composed by Glezer,  Zharkikh, with participation from Talochkin. More than 80 artists took part. The authorities did not interfere in the event, but the participants suffered problems at work, and summons grew more frequent to psychiatric clinics, draft boards and the police regarding “parasitism” and job placement.

Alexander Kosolapov emigrates to the USA, where he continues to work on forms of sots-culture, often uniting them with American pop-cultural images.

Lydia Masterkova emigrates to France.

February 19-22

At National Economic Achievements Exposition, at the Bee-Keeping pavilion, the first exhibit of non-conformist art is permitted in a closed exhibit hall. Participants are: P. Belenok, Vechtomov,  Eduard Drobitsky,  Zveryev, Viacheslav Kalinin, Otari Kandaurov, Krasnopevtsev,  Kropivnitskaya,  Masterkova,  Nemukhin, Plavinsky,  Rabin, Igor Snegur,  Tyapushkin,  Kharitonov,  Tselkov,  Shteinberg, A. Yulikov, Vladimir Yakovlev, Yankilevsky. Despite terrible freezing weather, people stand in line up to three hours to see the forbidden art.

"Preliminary Apartment Views for the All-Union Exposition" is a movement for permission to hold mass exhibits. It was held in two stages, March 29-April 5 and April 23-27.

First Stage:

1) apartment of Oskar Rabin

2) apartment of Iosif Kiblitsky

3) apartment of Nadezhda Elskaya

4) apartment of Mikhail Odnoralov

5) apartment of Svetlana and Oleg Pankov

6) apartment of Koryun Nagapetyan

7) apartment of Nikolai Andrievich

8) apartment of Rimma Gorodinskaya

Second Stage:

1) apartment of Oskar Rabin

2) apartment of Iosif Kiblitsky

3) apartment of Koryun Nagapetyan

4) Mikhail Odnoralov’s studio

5) Borukh’s studio

6) apartment of Iosif Ginzburg

More than 100 artists took part.

September 20-30

VDNKh Exhibit, House of Culture Pavilion.

Movement for holding mass exhibits of non-conformist artists obtains permission to hold such an exhibit for artists who have a Moscow residence permit. All those who wish take part, a total of 164 persons. The composition of the initiative group changes, but its leader is Oskar Rabin. "Non-artists" also invited (art critics and collectors), Talochkin, Tatiana Kolodzei, and E. Kovaykina. 145 people bring their works.

The Censorship Commission of the Chief Department of Culture of the Moscow City Council Executive Committee removes 38 works from the exhibit. As a result of the sharp conflict between artists and the administrations, 15 works are returned to the exposition. The exhibit opens to the public on September 21.

 The creation of the Moscow Joint Committee of the Trade Union of Graphic Artists and the opening of the first exhibit hall for non-conformists in Moscow (on Malaya Gruzinskaya St.).


Apartment exhibits (preliminary shows for the forthcoming exhibit in the halls at Begovaya St), in which about 80 artists take place, including Tselkov, Yakovlev, Sokov, Chuykov, Shelkovsky, Roginsky and others.


Exhibit at Malaya Gruzinskaya No. 7 by Moscow artists. Among them are  Krasnopevtsev, Nemukhin,  Plavinsky, Vechtomov and others.


Begovaya ul. Exhibit Hall of the Moscow Section of the Union of Artists.

Group exhibit of Moscow artists, represented by 13 authors, including Roginsky, Tselkov.

Artist Yevgeny Rukhin dies in a fire at his studio under mysterious circumstances. His friends suspect that this is arson committed by the secret police. Artists Oleg Volkov and Yuri Rybakov hang a 42-meter banner on the wall of the Peter and Paul Fortress in St. Petersburg: “You crucify freedom, but the soul of man knows no fetters.”  Both were arrested and sent to labor camp.

Komar and Melamid have their first show in the USA. The “Sots Art” exhibit is made up of works sent abroad and takes place at the Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York. A performance of “Passport” was done at the opening, with the musical part played on the cello by Charlotte Moorman, a member of the Fluxus group.

Alexander Melamid and Vitaly Komar emigrate to Israel. On the sacred Mt. Zion in Jerusalem, K&M erect a "temple" -- an aluminum pyramid with a five-pointed star on top, and make "burnt offerings" at its feet -- burning the suitcase which Vitaly Komar took as he left his homeland.

Oleg Tselkov emigrates to Paris.

November 17-December 17

Di Meana, president of the Venice Biennale, organizes an exhibit dubbed by the press as the “Biennale of Dissent” where unofficial art is represented from the countries of socialism, including the works of several dozen artists from the USSR. A catalogue is published for the exhibit.

Komar and Melamid move from Israel to the USA and settle in New York.

Oskar Rabin is stripped of his Soviet citizenship by a special resolution of the USSR Supreme Soviet and sent abroad. He emigrates to France (Paris).

Mikhail Roginsky emigrates to France (Paris).

Lev Sokov emigrates to the USA.

First issue of A-Ya journal appears. It is dedicated to unofficial Russian art and is illegally founded in the USSR, and published right up until 1986 in Paris. A-Ya opened to a broader public the world of the unknown independent art of artists living in the USSR.

Editors:  Alexander Sidorov in Moscow and Igor Shelkovsky in Paris. The journal was essentially published with funds Shelkovsky found from various sources in the West.

At the dacha of Academician Ilya Berg, Vladimir Sorokin, Dmitri Prigov and Viktor Erofeyev (the EPS group) read their stories about filth, torture, crude sex and other “shamelessness." The young conceptualists are condemned by the older generation of 1960s writers, and they even come to blows.

After the success of the “Sots Art” show at the Feldman Gallery in New York, the works of Komar and Melamid are acquired by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Metropolitan Museum.

Victor Pivovarov emigrates from the USSR to Czech Republic (Prague).

Ilya Kabakov creates the first installations in his Moscow studio.

For the first time in Russian literature, the Sots Art method is used by Vladimir Sorokin in an anthology of stories, First Subbotnik.

Arrest and trial of Viacheslav Sysoyev, graphic artist and cartoonist. In the early 1960s, he creates the first anti-Soviet cartoons, and joins the circle of the Moscow art underground. After several years of persecution, Sysoyev is arrested and sentenced to five years, officially "for dissemination of pornography".

In 1989, he emigrated to Germany and worked in Berlin until the end of his life, re-making many of his early works that had been destroyed after his arrest and creating new series.

Kabakov’s one-man show at the Dina Vierny Gallery (Paris).

After one of his street performances, Prigov is arrested by the police and forcibly sent for treatment in a psychiatric clinic. Thanks to intervention by cultural figures inside the country and abroad, he is soon released.

SOTSART exhibit. New Museum of Contemporary Art.  New York.

Interrogation by the KGB of artists collaborating with the journal A-Ya. Among them:  Kabakov, Chuikov, Bulatov and others. After the incident, the journal closes.

July 5

An article comes out in Sovetskaya kul'tura with the headline "Fish in a Troubled Pond" after which Alexander Yulikov is expelled from the Union of Artists (he is restored in 1989).

December 25

Formation of Hermitage, an amateur creative association. About 80 people join. Artists, photographers, art critics, architects, and writers.

Exhibit “1960s-1970s” at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Basel, Switzerland

Joint show by artists Kabakov and Chuykov.

October 19-25

Exhibits. «Retrospective of the Works of Moscow Artists 1957-1987. Graphic Arts.”

September 22-October 11

«Retrospective of the Works of Moscow Artists 1957-1987. Painting.”

Curators: Leonid Bazhanov, Vitaly Patsyukov,  Talochkin, Andrey Erofeev.

The sound track of the film "Assa" by Sergei Solovyev contains the song "We're Waiting for Changes" by Viktor Tsoi, which became a kind of informal youth anthem during the perestroika era.

Loosening of censorship of the media. Starting in 1986, literary works are published that had not been permitted during the period of Brezhnev's re-Stalinization.

The policy of glasnost is proclaimed in public life. Release of many dissidents from labor camp, removal of Party censorship over the mass media and works of culture, an end to the jamming of foreign radio stations, a return of books to libraries from closed stacks and so on.

In Moscow at the Center for International Trade, the first Sotheby’s auction is held devoted to contemporary art from the USSR. It goes down in history with the sensational sale of Grisha Bruskin’s painting “Fundamental Lexicon” at a record high price. The opening bid was announced at £18.000, but the hammer fell at £220.000.