(E-E) Ev.g.e.n.i.j ..K.o.z.l.o.     Berlin                                                  


      (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov: Leningrad 80s • No.115 >>

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection • Harvard University

USA-CCCP. Points of Contact.
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov – Catherine Mannick
Correspondence 1979 – 1990

1. From Leningrad to Boston and Back

“USA-CCCP. Points of Contact” describes the correspondence between Catherine Mannick and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov (1979 – 1990). The letters, written in Russian, and the gifts sent both ways show how in the decade of the 1980s, the student from Boston and the Leningrad artist were supporting each other in the process of creating their places in the world. While this period saw a shift from Cold War to détente, dealing with the culture of each other’s country helped them define their own position, which affected significant aspects of their lives – studies and job for Mannick, art for Kozlov.

For Mannick, the 1980s meant, among other things, bringing in line her profession as a lawyer with her love for travelling and getting to know different cultures and languages. “My life is a constant dialectic  – America-alienation/abroad-freedom, but I somehow can never find the synthesis.” (Letter 34, 1985). In this dialectic, Russia played a special role, and after her 1986 visit, she wrote: “I always receive such perspectives when I'm abroad, in particular in Russia.” (Letter 36, 1986). In 1987, she again enrolled in a graduate programme at Harvard University, this time in Russian history, because “…to immerse myself in Russian history, literature and culture, that's for me. I've spent so much time in Russia, but there were always questions – the key, at least in part, is in the past.” (Letter 43, 1988) Kozlov welcomed Mannick’s decision (Letter N, part 1, 1987), although it limited her time for travels, since she continued working at a law office to finance her studies. After her studies, she started representing U.S. businesses in the countries of the former Soviet Union.

For Kozlov, the 1980s meant experimenting with new styles in art that would display those visual and spiritual qualities corresponding to the life forces of the late twentieth century.[1] Mannick’s letters from across the ocean, as well as her occasional trips to Leningrad stimulated his synthetic worldview. Kozlov was thinking on a large scale, and this drew him to America’s cultural life:

    […] all the time I think about the culture of your country, it beckons and attracts me. By what? Perhaps with its energy and movement or by you? (Letter J, 1986)[2]

Mannick’s support encouraged him to defend his right to entirely dedicate himself to art, when, again and again, the lack of money, time and space constrained his artistic projects. In the first place, he struggled to get rid of what he called “government jobs”, badly paid odd jobs he had to accept in order to avoid being accused of social “parasitism” – like many of his artists friends he was lacking a diploma from a higher art school and was therefore denied the legal status of an artist (see Letter B, 1980; Letter I, 1986; Letter K, 1986).[3] Mannick motivated him to pursue his plans:

    And how are things with you, Zhenya? I so much want for you to be content and satisfied with yourself, with your work, and, in general, with your life. Believe, believe, believe in yourself.[4] (Letter 18, 1984)

While Kozlov and Mannick never discussed political matters, their friendship inspired, directly or indirectly, a chief aspect of Kozlov’s art from the 1980s – works that can be subsumed under the heading “USA-CCCP”, or, alternatively “CCCP-USA” (CCCP being USSR in Russian). These works deal with the antagonism between the two superpowers in manifold ways. In Letter P from March 1989, Kozlov wrote, “I am still interested in the CCCP-USA topic. I often return to it in my paintings.” The constructivist painting “Points of Contact” from 1989 synthesises this polarity. This is why it was chosen, in retrospect, as the title for the correspondence.

At the same time, Kozlov’s letters and pictures give an insider’s account of Leningrad’s independent art and music scene of the 1980s – of artists and musicians related in one way or another to Leningrad’s avant-garde group “The New Artists”, of which Kozlov was a leading member. Vintage prints and collages, many painted in Kozlov’s colourful “new wave” style or his elaborate “B(L)ack art” graffiti style, show them performing on stage, at home or in backyards.

These works are part of Kozlov’s art sent to Boston. Mannick preserved a total of 68 vintage prints and 46 artworks, partly sent as an integral part of a letter, partly sent as loose inserts and sometimes given over personally. Apart from painted vintage prints and collages, they include gouache and watercolour paintings, drawings, and monotype prints, as well as a painted T-shirt and a sculpture. Approximately 100 digitised slides offer additional information about Kozlov’s art and that of his fellow artists. (see Preliminary Remarks Sending art, pictures and other presents more >>)

Together with Mannick’s and Kozlov’s letters, Kozlov’s diaries from 1979 to 1983 and some other artefacts, Kozlov’s art and pictures are now in the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University. The material, stored as (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-2022 (inclusive), can be studied on-site at Fung Library. Kozlov’s letters, art, and diaries have been contextualised for online research on his website www.e-e.eu.

Kozlov’s largest gift to his friend, “The River of Forgetfulness” from 1988, is a work on paper in a 102 x 247 format, sent to Boston in 1989. In 2023, Mannick donated it to the Wende Museum, California.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Река забвения / The River of Forgetfulness Mixed media on paper, 102 x 247 cm, 1988 E-E archival number: E-E-188017  Wende Museum, California

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Река забвения / The River of Forgetfulness
Mixed media on paper, 102 x 247 cm, 1988
E-E archival number: E-E-188017

Wende Museum, California





Although the Soviet regime heavily restricted contacts with the western world for Soviet citizens, making friends with foreigners from so-called “capitalist countries” was not unusual among young artists, especially those who like (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov belonged to the “unofficial” art-scenes of Moscow and Leningrad / Saint Petersburg. Both cities saw an influx of international visitors – not only tourists, but also students remaining for some longer time, studying Russian or other subjects at Moscow’s and Leningrad's universities. Embassy and consulate staff and the gatherings they organised also played a major role in establishing contacts with foreigners more>>.

In Kozlov’s archive, there are a number of letters from Germany and the United States dating to the mid-seventies, which show that he had long been interested in communicating with the “outer” world. Quite often, it was Kozlov’s close friend Kolya Vlasov, an outgoing, extroverted young man and English teacher, who made the first contact. Vlasov had the privilege of living all on his own in a small apartment in the centre of town, where Kozlov, who lived in the outskirts of Leningrad, would sometimes show his works to foreign students.

It was with Vlasov that Kozlov met Catherine Mannick and her friend Ann in the summer of 1979. The students from the United States, both speaking Russian, were studying in a summer Russian language program at Leningrad State University. Mannick had visited the Soviet Union several times previously, the first time in 1973 with her high school . The four young people, all in their mid-twenties, were curious to find out more about each other, and it appears that they had a lot in common. Actually, the pictures from Mannick’s archive don’t tell who is American and who is Russian. They show Vlasov, Kozlov and Mannick in Vlasov’s apartment looking at Kozlov’s drawings. Put differently, Kozlov introduced himself to Mannick as an artist, and many of his letters reflect his artistic quest.

Catherine Mannick with one of E-E‘s works on paper (see below), Leningrad 1979. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov with one his works on paper (see below), Leningrad 1979. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

Catherine Mannick with one of E-E‘s works on paper (see below), Leningrad 1979.
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(
E-E) Evgenij Kozlov with one his works on paper (see below), Leningrad 1979.
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Untitled (лист третий / third sheet). Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42.2 cm,1979, E-E-180082 A self-portrait with the artist pointing at Saint Isaac's Cathedral is in the centre of the composition.
(
E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Untitled (лист третий / third sheet). Mixed media on paper, 30 x 42.2 cm,1979,
E-E archival number: E-E-180082
A self-portrait with the artist pointing at Saint Isaac's Cathedral is in the centre of the composition.



Those few times Mannick and Kozlov met in 1979 set the beginning of a correspondence across political boundaries that would last for an exceptional eleven years, with letters being sent from Leningrad to Boston and back up to 1990. Numerous gifts evidence the closeness they were feeling for each other, among them books and records, but most importantly, Kozlov’s artworks, often included in a letter. Mannick cherished them:

    I also want you to know how much I value your artworks that I have – I got frames for them and hung them in my apartment. I now have my own art gallery. (Letter 8, 1980)

During those eleven years, encounters were rare, especially because travels were possible only into one direction, with Mannick coming to the Soviet Union. Kozlov, like the overwhelming majority of Soviet citizens, remained stuck in his own country:

    I received your postcard from Paris the day before yesterday. You're having a great time! France — Switzerland—Italy— WHAT IS IT? WHERE IS IT? I've never been there, but I've always wanted to see museums, streets, parks, outdoor cafes, restaurants, just people, air, fashion, you… (Letter J, 1986)

Birthdays and Christmas / New Year were standard opportunities to send each other letters and greetings, and they both tried not to miss them. To maintain the friendship across the border, Mannick’s visits to Leningrad were, however, decisive. In October 1982, after receiving her law degree in the U.S., she began graduate studies in law at Moscow University, and until June 1983, when she left, they were able to meet a number of times.

Mannick again briefly visited Leningrad in October 1984 and then in October 1986. After that, there was a longer break, since several of Mannick’s attempts to visit the Soviet Union failed, one of the reasons being that the country became a “perestroika” destination for foreign tourists and hotel rooms were booked out (Letter 47, 1989). Their next encounter took place in Moscow in early 1990. By that time, each had become fully engaged with their personal lives – Mannick with her job and marriage, and Kozlov with his new studio “The Russian Field”, where he was becoming more and more integrated into the international art world. In 1989, he wrote:

    Thank you very much for all your letters, I'm sorry I couldn't answer right away, but business and changes have been taking up all my time. (Letter Q, 1989)

 Ст. Петербург, Фонтанка 145, мастерская Евгения Козлова «Русскоее Полее» (1989 - 1991) на четвертом этаже. 

Saint Petersburg, Fontanka river embankment no145 /143.
Towards the end of the 1980s and lasting until the early 1990s, the two buildings on the left (no 145) hosted Leningrad's legendary art-squat and Russia's first techno club "Tanzpol” more>>
On the third floor (left) was (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov‘s studio “Russkoee Polee” (The Russian Field, 1989 - 1991). 

Photo: Hannelore Fobo, 1990



But they both nevertheless kept the affectionate tone of their writing. Kozlov’s last letter is from March 1990:

    My dear Katya,
    How glad I was to see you in Moscow! It has been one of the most wonderful and pleasant moments of my life lately, and I really love to remember that half an hour of our conversation. (Letter R, 1990)

They met again shortly afterwards, in Leningrad in May 1990, and then a last time, also in Leningrad, in the autumn of the same year. After that, their paths ultimately parted. While Mannick continued visiting Russia on business trips and kept the contact with their common friends, Kozlov eventually moved to Berlin. 





Arranging for meetings was not always easy. Because the KGB might read letters from America, it seemed better not to be too specific about a place and time in advance. Another reason was that on average, letters took three weeks to arrive, and plans could easily change during this time. When Mannick came to the Soviet Union, she often called a common friend to leave a message, since Kozlov lived in Peterhof (Petrodvorets), in the outskirts of Leningrad, without a telephone. In 2023, she recalled how she had learned how to deal with the situation during her studies in Moscow:

    There was a whole art around arranging communications. We foreign students avoided using phones in dorms or tourist hotels as they were very likely bugged. The best option was a phone booth in a heavily trafficked area, such as a Metro station. However, the dvushki [two-kopek coins] that the pay phones required were hard to come by. We found that an American dime, as well as a Soviet 10 kopeck coin, worked just as well. The meeting place was often in the Metro – “let us meet at such and such a time by the first car coming from the direction of ____.” Another way of communicating, especially if the person you were trying to reach didn’t have a phone, was to send a telegram indicating the time and place of meeting (“I’ll wait for you at 2 pm on such and such a date in front of Dom knigi”). (Letter E, 1983, Introduction)

To Kozlov, being able to communicate in Russian was clearly a precondition for keeping a correspondence with his friend Catherine. He was fluent in art, but not in English, although he did attend private English classes and sometimes used English words or sentences in his letters. In Russian, his writing style is elegant, if not literary, and displays the great care he took in expressing his thoughts and reflections in an interesting, and sometimes paradoxical and humorous way: “I received you letter with great pleasure. What a pity you didn’t fit in the envelope, you are just too small.” (Letter B, 1980).

His descriptions of his activities are colourful and entertaining, be it a fishing trip in the Gulf of Finland where he almost drowned (Letter D, 1982), a large exhibition with, among others, two of his paintings entitled “The Horror Stories of Bourgeois Cinema” (Letter I, 1986), or celebrating a New Year party among artists and art lovers with “Russian folk songs and opera arias (almost like in the Kirov Theatre)” (Letter O, 1988).

Mannick appreciated Kozlov’s stories and reflections – “I so love to hear about your life and about your work and about your thoughts” (Letter 30, 1985). He often addressed his friend directly, commenting on her thoughts or asking for her opinion on different matters – including his art.

In 1986, Kozlov discussed his painting “CCCP-USA” with his friend. It is one of the first works where this inscription appears as part of the composition.

    I have just reached the middle of my new painting – “CCCP-USA”, and I see that I really miss you, your presence now. I'm thinking and I can't decide what other crazy element I should add to my new painting, you would certainly help and suggest something interesting. I've been painting this picture for a whole month, I see that the work is going well and, anyway, I'm only half satisfied with myself – right at the moment, I can't catch inside myself the essential element, some kind of shock moment. (Letter J, 1986)
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov with his painting CCCP-USA / USSR-USA Oil on canvas, approx. 160 x 110 cm, 1986, E-E-186026 Photo: C. Mannick, October 1986 Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov with his painting
CCCP-USA / USSR-USA
Oil on canvas, approx. 160 x 110 cm, 1986, E-E-186026
Photo: C. Mannick, October 1986

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University
See Letter L, 1986



In this way, Kozlov’s texts come as close as possible to a direct conversation, and it is essential that his idea of a continuous dialogue was taken up by his friend, even though the intervals between two letters could amount to several months.

The private character of the correspondence allowed Mannick and Kozlov to talk about and explain the feelings they were experiencing for each other. Although they were important for Kozlov as well as for Mannick, the letters also reveal conflicting ideas about how their friendship would progress. Kozlov was hoping for a common future and tried to involve his friend in his plans:

    I would love to work on scenery for ballets, for example, the Art Nouveau style would suit, or curtains. I want to believe that someday this desire will come true for both of us. (Letter D, 1982)

Mannick declined such far-going plans for their friendship, and this made her 1984 visit “pleasant and tense at the same time” (Letter 24, 1984). Later, she apologised for giving “contradictory signs”, and while she also wrote of her new and promising engagement with someone she had met some months earlier, she insisted that “relations between us were special and in my mind always will be”. (Letter 32, 1985) 

The contradictions notwithstanding, Mannick’s 1986 visit left a deep impact on both of them. On that occasion, Kozlov introduced her to some of his artist friends, and Mannick remembered “another, wonderful planet […] sitting at your place in Peterhof, strolling, in the restaurant, at the concert, at parties, on crazy taxis, listening to Vysotsky’s music, one can dream of this!” Kozlov, for his part, concluded, “…my world, my condition, my peace and anxiety, the harmony of my life have changed” (Letter L, 1986). If Kozlov created a wonderful planet for Mannick, then Mannick created a just as wonderful planet for Kozlov – a space within a space, sheltered from Soviet reality.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Painted vintage print from Letter L, autumn 1986 Catherine Mannick and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov at a Leningrad restaurant Right: artist and musician Georgy Guryanov. October 1986 E-E archival number: E-E-pho-Y017-opc2 Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov
Painted vintage print from Letter L, autumn 1986
Catherine Mannick and (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov at a Leningrad restaurant
Right: artist and musician Georgy Guryanov. October 1986

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-Y017-opc2

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University
See Letter L, 1986




Over time, Kozlov, accepted that his romantic expectations were not met, though it didn’t stop him from wishing that Mannick was coming back to her “beloved Leningrad and Petrodvorets which are waiting for you with impatience and miss you very much!" (Letter O, 1988). On the other hand, as his first and main concern was and has always been art, art set the priority with regard to his personal life. The artworks and the pictures Kozlov sent his friend bear witness of a fast artistic evolution. By the end of the 1980s, his distinctly personal style fused elements of classical drawing, early Soviet art, as well as of western graffiti and pop art.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov in his Leningrad studio “Russkoe Polee” / The Russian Field with two paintings from his "New Classicals" cycle 1989/1990: Love for the Cosmos and Love for the Wonderful (first version) more>> Colour print with text on the reverse from Letter R, 18 March 1990 Photo: unknown. E-E archival number: E-E-pho-ZA06-op Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov in his Leningrad studio “Russkoe Polee” / The Russian Field with two paintings from his "New Classicals" cycle 1989/1990: Love for the Cosmos and Love for the Wonderful (first version) more>>
Colour print with text on the reverse from Letter R, 18 March 1990
Photo: unknown.

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-ZA06-op

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University
See Letter R, 1990

Hannelore Fobo, 9 March 2024.


[1] See also E-E Kozlov’s long-term project “Century XX”, 1989 to present. Part 1 >>, Part 3 >>

[2] Translation of (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov’s letters by Hannelore Fobo.

[3] For a detailed description of the status of an “unofficial” or “non-official” artist see Hannelore Fobo.Timur Novikov's New Artists Lists, page 4 • The Leningrad subculture of the 1980s, 2018 more >>

[4] Translation of Catherine Mannick’s letters by herself.




USA-CCCP. Points of Contact.
Part 1: Introduction
Synopsis • Preliminary Remarks
1. From Leningrad to Boston and Back
2. Let’s Talk About Art. New Wave, New Artists, and B(L)ack art.
3. Perestroika Emissaries
4. The End of Censorship
5. “It Seems I Need a Manager.” The Impact of Getting Popular
6. Leningrad Artists and Musicians in E-E Kozlov's Pictures
— The River of Forgetfulness, 1988 —
Part 2: Letters
Letter A (1979) – Halloween
Letter B (1980) – To Be at Peace with Yourself
Letter C (1980) – Harlequin
Pictures 1981 – Flat Exhibitions / Letopis ("Chronicle”)
Letter D (1982) – The Sea and the Countryside
Letter E (1983) – Saigon
Letter F (1983) – Moscow
Letter G (1984) – New Wave
Letter H (1985) – New Composers
Letter I (1986) – Happy New Year at the Leningrad Rock Club
Letter J (1986) – CCCP-USA
Letter K (1986) – The Price of Art
Letter L (1986) – B (L)ack art • PoPs from the USSSR
Letter M (1986) – A Taste for Colours
Letter N (1987) – Part 1: Changes and Challenges
Letter N (1987) – Part 2: ASSA
Letter O (1988) – Joanna Stingray's Wedding
Letter P (1989) – Perestroika Hot News
Letter Q (1989) – Russkoee Polee • The Russian Field
Letter R (1990) – New Classicals
Epilogue: USA-CCCP. Points of Contact (Forthcoming)

see also
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Catherine Mannick, and Hannelore Fobo papers, 1979-2022 (inclusive)
Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection Harvard University >>

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Published 15 March 2024
Last updated 9 July 2024

A shorter version was published 20 February 2023