(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

Text and Research: Hannelore Fobo, 2021/2024

Let’s Talk About Art. New Wave, New Artists, and B(L)ack art.

Philosophical reflections on art – art as the aesthetics of transforming matter – appear in Kozlov’s notes and diaries,[1] not in his letters, as such thoughts belonged to an inner discourse rather than to a conversation. In his dialogue with his friend, Kozlov described more practical aspects of his artistic quest, keeping her updated about his exhibitions and other activities related to art. His pictures from the 1981 Letopis exhibition constitute an early example (the corresponding letter is no longer available; about the exhibition more >>).

Mannick, in turn, wrote about the exhibitions she visited or planned to visit, which were often related to Russian or Soviet art, like the legendary 1979 Paris-Moscow exhibition in Paris (Letter 2, 1979). She wrote many of her letters on art-postcards, frequently acquired at museums, such as the Busch Reisinger Museum at Harvard University (Feininger, Letter 7, 1980), the Stedelijk Museum (Malevich, Letter 8, 1980), or the Guggenheim Museum (Chagall, El Lissitzky, Malevich, Letter 12, 1981). Occasionally, she sent postcards from the places she visited, like Paris or Rio de Janeiro.

Kozlov was always looking for impulses stimulating his artistic fantasy (see Diaries, Introduction Chapter 2. Impulses for art more >>). Through his regular visits to the Hermitage and the Russian Museum, he had a profound knowledge of art history, both western and Russian, and through books, he tried to catch up with international trends.[2] Mannick supplied her friend with brochures and books on art. In most cases, their titles are not mentioned in the letters, but most likely, Dore Ashton’s illustrated book “American Art Since 1945” from 1982, which is in a picture from Mannick’s 1986 Leningrad visit, was one of her gifts.[3]

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Double page from the book of collages SEXPOPS. (See Letter L) Left: a fragment of Dore Ashton’s illustrated book “American Art Since 1945” from 1982, possibly Mannick’s gift to her friend.  Photo: Catherine Mannick, October 1986  Digitised slide image: Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Double page from the book of collages SEXPOPS more >>.
Left: a fragment of Dore Ashton’s illustrated book “American Art Since 1945” from 1982, possibly Mannick’s gift to her friend.

Photo: Catherine Mannick, October 1986

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



From time to time, Leningrad’s museums presented exhibitions of contemporary western artists. In 1983, there was a large exhibition from West-Germany, and in his diary, Kozlov noted works by Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, Markus Lüpertz, and Helmut Middendorf.[4] He still remembers another, somewhat earlier exhibition with artists from the US at the Hermitage which could not be identified.

Apparently, these visits made him feel confident with the visual art of his own culture.[5] In Letter G, written in September 1984, just before Mannick’s visit, he came to the conclusion:

    […] everything I've seen lately from Western art is dead, except, of course, music. The fine art of Russian culture is alive, but unfortunately there is no possibility to advertise it on a large scale. This [fine art] hugely stimulates work and it seems that, even with these obstacles, soon the centre of world culture will move back to Russia, as it was before. (Letter G, 1984)

Most probably, Kozlov was exaggerating his criticism of western art to promote his own art-group, since he continued:

    Now the forces that create brilliant works of art are growing stronger here, it is worth collecting them. (Letter G, 1984)

During her visit, he gave Mannick thirty-two colour slide reproductions of paintings and collages. He had done so before twice, in 1982 and in 1983, but now, the pictures included not only his own works, but those of five artists: Kirill Khazanovich, Oleg Kotelnikov, (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov, Timur Novikov, and Ivan Sotnikov – The New Artists (1982-1989).[6] They had just had their first group exhibition at a private venue, Novikov’s “ASSA” gallery, and the slides documented, in the main, the exhibits (See Letter G, 1984, and Alexander Boyko’s pictures more >>). Kozlov was hoping that Mannick could show them to some art professionals – and that they might interest a collector.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Calender page from July 1984 used to wrap the slides taken by Alexander Boykowith notes by E-E Kozlov. Ivan Sotnikov's name is not in the list more >>  Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Calender page from July 1984 used to wrap the slides taken by Alexander Boykowith notes by E-E Kozlov. Ivan Sotnikov's name is not in the list more >>

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



Not long after her visit, in December 1984, Mannick answered:

    By the way, I did show the slides to my girlfriend who is an art expert, and they created a very positive impression, in particular your work. She is completely convinced that you could find supporters in any place. And she knows this space. Some slides are a little bit damaged because of dirt but I think that I can fix them. (Letter 25, 1984)

1984 was the year the New Artists consolidated as a group. From then on and up to 1987, Kozlov refers to them quite often in his letters, both in his texts and with his pictures, sending Mannick unpainted and painted prints and photo collages. He seldom mentioned the names of his artist friends, but in most pictures they can be easily identified. (A list follows at the end of the chapter.)

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Vintage print from Letter I, approx. May 1986 Pop Mekhanika performance, Leningrad Rock Club, December 1985 Sergei Bugaev, Vladislav Gutsevich (with bucket), Igor Verichev, Oleg Kotelnikov, Garik Assa, Mikhail Chernov (saxophone), Chris Cross (Ultravox, bass guitar), Boris Grebenshikov (guitar) more>> E-E archival number: E-E-pho-BH64-op Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Vintage print from Letter I, approx. May 1986
Pop Mekhanika performance, Leningrad Rock Club, December 1985
Sergei Bugaev, Vladislav Gutsevich (with bucket), Igor Verichev, Oleg Kotelnikov, Garik Assa,Mikhail Chernov (saxophone), Chris Cross (Ultravox, bass guitar), Boris Grebenshikov (guitar) more>>

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-BH64-op

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




Paradoxically, if the New Artists started as an isolated movement in Leningrad, their painting can, however, at least partly be set into the international context of Neo-Expressionism – East Village artists (USA), Figuration Libre (France), Die Neuen Wilden (Germany) and Transavangarde (Italy).[7] Perhaps Mannick’s girlfriend was familiar with the East Village artists, which led to her “good impression”. But it seems that by September 1984, Kozlov hadn’t yet heard of Keith Haring, Kenny Scharf and his favourite Jean-Michel Basquiat, otherwise he wouldn’t have made such a startling remark about western art.[8]

Oleg Kotelnikov Brushstroke 1982 Photographer Alexander Boyko took the picture in the courtyard of Timur Novikov's art squat and gallery "ASSA” in 1984 more >>  A digitised slide is in the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University Oleg Kotelnikov's painting on the cover of the New Artists’ "Brushstroke" exhibition catalogue at The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg. Palace Editions, 2010. With articles by Ekaterina Andreeva, Alexander Borovsky, and Olesia Turkina.

Oleg Kotelnikov
Brushstroke 1982
Photographer Alexander Boyko took the picture in the courtyard of Timur Novikov's art squat and gallery "ASSA” in 1984 more >>

A digitised slide image is in the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University
Oleg Kotelnikov's painting on the cover of the New Artists’ "Brushstroke" exhibition catalogue at The State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg. Palace Editions, 2010.
With articles by Ekaterina Andreeva, Alexander Borovsky, and Olesia Turkina.




Instead, the New Artists connected themselves to an international movement related to music – New Wave – which fits Kozlov’s remark “everything I've seen lately from Western art is dead, except, of course, music”.[9] At the beginning of 1985, Mannick wrote:

    […] It was very interesting for me, by the way, to read about your impressions of these young new-wave people. They seem very similar to ours who have the same inclinations. I'm very happy that the new wave appeared in pop-culture – everything before this had begun to be a little boring. (Letter 26, 1985)

The same year, Kozlov sent Mannick a bright new wave T-shirt. Mannick’s reaction was enthusiastic:

    The “T-shirt” is simply wonderful – I'm going to wear it in a new new-wave discotheque that just opened not far from me. I will think of you when I dance there! (Letter 30, 1985)

For obvious reasons, in the Soviet Union, western music spread more easily than visual information – through the so-called “voices”: Voice of America, BBB, and Radio Luxemburg (see Letter M, 1986). New Wave music, originally made popular by British bands, had found its way to Leningrad in the early 1980s. In a diary entry from 1983, Kozlov noted the names of several New Wave bands, among them Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, Devo, and Kraftwerk (Diary IV, p. 4-74, 1983). While in general, Leningrad musicians didn’t copy the glamorous outfits associated with new wave stars, the idea of a more selective, post-punk attitude to style was adapted by a number of fashionistas, with Georgy Guryanov taking the leading part. The drummer of the cult-band KINO, who insisted on carefully chosen outfits for the band’s members, is in many photographs sent to Boston, among them several painted pictures. Mannick met him in 1986 (see picture below).

With her comments on “these new-wave people”, Mannick referred to Kozlov’s previous letter from December 1984; this letter no longer exists. Possibly, Kozlov wrote about a dance party at the Ilych House of Culture from the end of 1984, where everyone dressed up in the style of the fifties more >>. No pictures of this event are in Mannick’s collection, but Kozlov created a large zigzag fold, “Good Evening Gustav” – Gustav being Guryanov’s nickname – which documents the young people’s love for extravagancy See ART E. Kozlov /E-E/ No. 40 ‘Good Evening Gustav’. The artist returned to these “dancing” motifs in his later works.

Yet if Mannick found a match between the Soviet and American “new wave” cultures (“They seem very similar to ours who have the same inclinations”), she didn’t want her friend to have a mistaken view about American mainstream culture. In the same letter, she explained:

    […] what defines us is not the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but television, films of second quality, advertisements, life in cheap restaurants and bars […]. (Letter 26, 1985)

It is not clear what caused her note, since, as mentioned above, Kozlov’s previous letter no longer exists. Did Kozlov really cultivate illusions about what determined cultural life in the US? Or, was he, in Mannick’s opinion, underestimating mainstream culture in the Soviet Union? He wasn’t naïve, but first and foremost, he felt the restrictions imposed on his far-reaching artistic ideas. A year later, he would write:

    You have the opportunity to pour your energy into work, but I don't. I dream of a time and a place where I can paint ten-metre canvases, where I have paints, lots of paints, in huge jars – they drive me crazy. I can, I want, I have to express myself! (Letter L, 1986)

In Leningrad, Kozlov found support with the New Artists. Their improvised gatherings stimulated his work. Three vintage prints from an “Anna Karenina” performance more >>, staged by the New Artists at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre – a small space in the attic of an apartment building more >> – found their way to Boston.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov"  Anna Karenina", a New Artists (New Theatre) performance at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, Leningrad, 1985. Left to right: Vladislav Gutsevich (“bailiff”), Timur Novikov (Karenin), Sergei Bugaev (Karenina) more >>  E-E archival number: E-E-pho-AU15-op Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov"  "Anna Karenina", a New Artists (New Theatre) performance at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, Leningrad, 1985. Left to right: Vladislav Gutsevich (“bailiff”), Sergei Bugaev (Karenina), Rodion Zavernyaev ("railroad man") This picture inspired a large multifigure composition from 1988 more >>  Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University E-E archival number: E-E-pho-AU14-op (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov"  "Anna Karenina", a New Artists (New Theatre) performance at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, Leningrad, 1985. In the foreground Georgy Guryanov (Vronsky) and Sergei Bugaev (Karenina). Left: Valery Alakhov providing theNew Composer’s sound for the performance with his cassette recorder. more >> Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University E-E archival number: E-E-pho-AU34-op

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov"

Anna Karenina", a New Artists (New Theatre) performance at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, Leningrad, 1985.
Left to right: Vladislav Gutsevich (“bailiff”), Timur Novikov (Karenin), Sergei Bugaev (Karenina) more >>

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-AU15-op
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov"

"Anna Karenina", a New Artists (New Theatre) performance at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, Leningrad, 1985.
Left to right: Vladislav Gutsevich (“bailiff”), Sergei Bugaev (Karenina), Rodion Zavernyaev ("railroad man")
This picture inspired a large multifigure composition from 1988 more >>
See Letter F

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-AU14-op
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov"

"Anna Karenina", a New Artists (New Theatre) performance at the so-called Erik Goroshevsky Theatre, Leningrad, 1985.
In the foreground Georgy Guryanov (Vronsky) and Sergei Bugaev (Karenina). On the left: New Composer Valery Alakhov is contributing the sound to the performance using a portable desktop cassette recorder more >>
See Letter H

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-AU34-op

See also: Ekaterina Andreeva, The New Artists. In: Brushstroke.The new Artists and Necrorealists 1982 - 1991, ed. Evgenia Petrova, State Russian Museum, Palace Editions, 2010, pp. 44-46. The catalogue has another one of Kozlov's pictures from the Anna Karenina performance on p. 46.

Rodion Zavernyaev's Anna Karenina script is available on the website of the Garage Archive Collection External link >>



There is no corresponding letter, but in November 1985, Mannick wrote:

    I always read with great interest about your new artists and what's “going on” with them and Leningrad - your photographs really struck me. How I would like to see all this myself, to hear, to experience. Tell me, tell me about all of this. (Letter 30, 1985)

In the correspondence, there is no clear distinction between the New Artists as a group and the Leningrad new wave movement, and both are employed predominantly in the course of 1985. Possibly, in Leningrad, the term new wave – новая волна, novaya volna – for the New Artists’ activities was especially en vogue in 1985. While the New Artists were visual artists in the first place, the crossover of their projects, which included painting, collages, theatre, performances, music, film, and poetry, fostered the idea of them being a movement. Besides, to convert them into a larger “new wave” movement was part of Timur Novikov’s concept.

Kozlov’s focus was on visual art, to which he added photography – black and white pictures he processed in his own photo-laboratory and, starting in 1984, used for collages. But not only photography as such distinguished Kozlov’s approach from that of his fellow artists. Other artists occasionally painted portraits of each other, but Kozlov did so systematically – inspired by his own pictures, for which he provoked and shot their spontaneous gazes, poses, and postures more >>. The New Artists can be seen in numerous collages and, metamorphosed, in painted portraits and large multifigure compositions more >>/ (See Letter I). Thus, pictures from the “Anna Karenina” series, completely transformed, led to “Anna Karenina 1” and “Anna Karenina 2”, two large paintings from 1988 (See Letter F). Later that year, they went on a New Artists exhibition tour to Sweden more >>, Denmark, and Liverpool more >>, and from there they travelled to New York.

Through his pictures, Kozlov also connected himself with music, producing record sleeves for the band Kino (Nachalnik Kamchatki / The Chief of Kamchatka. See Letter G) and for Sergey Kuryokhin’s collaboration with New Composers Valery Alakhov and Igor Verichev, Kozlov’s close friends. In October 1985 he wrote:

    It seems that my work with the New Composers went well. The record should be released soon, it will be entertaining if the studio does everything right with the recording and design. I suggested ten painted photos for the cover, what will not be used for the cover will be printed in one of the music or art magazines. It is interesting to see [...] and the audience considers my works special, extreme in style, new. That's why the musicians invited me to work with them. I want to say that I also very much enjoyed working with them, they are smart and funny guys, talented, and this is the main thing. I like to meet them outside of work, they are full of life and willing to do something. You know what that means to me, right? I love those who engage in something. (Letter H, 1985)

A month later, Mannick replied:

    Your new work with musicians seems great to me - the connection between art and music is very tight and I'm happy that you're doing for “New Wave '' what artists in the past did for jazz and classical music. I think that for you, in particular, this is a very important step because your talents are multi-sided -painting, photography, you have a very good sense of the theatrical, musical and rhythmical in life - and I think that for yourself and for your viewers there will be much satisfaction and fulfillment. Please write to me about how it all works out. (Letter 32, 1985)

The album was eventually released in Liverpool in 1987 by ARK Records as “Popular Mechanics. Insect Culture” (see Letter N, part 1).

No pictures from this photo shoot were in Mannick’s collection – possibly, because Kozlov used a medium-format camera, and the prints were simply too large to be sent in a letter. However, two of the ten painted pictures he mentioned were recently discovered at the Liverpool John Moores University as part of the estate of Pete Fulwell, one of the founders ARK Records. Kozlov painted them in his sophisticated graffiti-comic style from 1985/1987 he labelled B(L)ack art.

B(L)ack art replaced Kozlov’s earlier, more decorative and geometrical – unnamed – “new wave” style, represented by the painted postcards from Letter G (1984).[10]  With its inscription BACK ART, the new wave T-shirt from 1985 (see Synopsis) links both styles. It seems plausible that the brand B(L)ack art – the logotype from 1986 – emerged from this design. In Kozlov’s writing, the “L” is not put in brackets, but acts as a dotted separator between B and a, so that the word can also be read as Back art. (See Letter L for an interpretation of the double reading more >>.)

In the correspondence, the earliest example of B(L)ack art is a picture of the New Composers from October 1985. It is also one of the first pictures displaying the (still very small) script CCCP-USA:

    I drew this funny picture for you, I wanted to do something unusual, to please you with something – sport, space, militarisation, the animal world and these not unhappy guys. (Letter H, 1985)

Kozlov first showed some B(L)ack art paintings publicly at the end of 1985, during the New Artists “Happy New Year” exhibition at the Leningrad Rock Club more >>. In Letter I from spring 1986, he wrote about the exhibition and sent reproductions of his paintings. These paintings, which were not based on photographs, display typical B(L)ack art features and symbols – e.g. a grim moon, a sputnik with an exhaust plume, a skull-headed manikin in a peaked cap, zigzagging ribbons, loops, spirals, asterisks, and so on.[11]

 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Title of painting unknown, possibly "Я-Я / Ya-Ya" (see bottom right) Letter I to Catherine Mannick, spring 1986, painted vintage print (B) Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University E-E archival number (photo): E-E-pho-EP11-opc E-E archival number of painting: E-E-185008.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Title of painting unknown, possibly "Я-Я / Ya-Ya" (see bottom right)

Letter I to Catherine Mannick, spring 1986, painted vintage print (B)

E-E archival number (photo): E-E-pho-EP11-opc
E-E archival number of painting: E-E-185008.

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



Several works didn’t pass censorship: 

    Painting B did not receive permission for the exhibition due to the English text (it is also in a private collection). In addition, I planned to show 15 photos painted with felt-tip pens, also from a private collection, but for various reasons they did not receive permission for the exhibition either – too "new wave", too unusual. (Letter I, 1986)

Most probably, the fifteen photos painted with felt-tip pens included Kozlov’s ten painted photos mentioned in Letter H as “special, extreme in style, new”. The English text in painting B that was banned is “There are no nearby hills or promontories from which the art gang could admire their WORK, ЖЕНЯ.” (Letter I, 1986) The source of the quote can no longer be established, but concerning the art gang, it can be said that B(L)ack art is Kozlov’s cool and iconic answer to hip hop culture – less egocentric and more humorous.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Timur Novikov Painted photo-collage, 1986 Signed and entitled B(L)ack art on the reverse This example of Kozlov's B(L)ack art style is from the “Timur on Horseback” series more>. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University E-E- archival number: E-E-186079 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov  Reverse of painted photocollage (left)  Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University  E-E- archival number: E-E-186079

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Timur Novikov
Painted photo-collage, 1986
Signed and entitled B(L)ack art on the reverse

This example of Kozlov's B(L)ack art style is from the “Timur on Horseback” series more>.

E-E- archival number: E-E-186079

Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University
See Letter L, 1986
(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Reverse of painted photocollage (left)

E-E- archival number: E-E-186079

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




Four painted photo collages in the Davis Center Special Collection – two with pictures of Timur Novikov and another two with the New Composers – are signed E. Kozlov 1986 B(L)ACK ART on the reverse (see Letter L, 1986). Presumably, Kozlov gave them to his friend during her October 1986 visit to Leningrad. Letter L, written shortly after her visit to congratulate her on her birthday, accounts for some particularly bright samples of Kozlov’s graffiti style. He wrote the letter on the reverse of eight painted pictures, partly from a Pop-Mekhanika performance at the Leningrad Youth Palace, partly with Mannick and his friends. One of the pictures is a portrait of Catherine Mannick displaying the lettering B(L)ACK ART turned into a curly logotype.

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov Catherine Mannick Painted vintage print, 10 x 15 cm, 1986. Letter L to Catherine Mannick from late October 1986, page 1. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University E-E- archival number: E-E-pho-Y066-opc

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

Catherine Mannick
Painted vintage print, 10 x 15 cm, 1986.
Letter L to Catherine Mannick from late October 1986, page 1.

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

E-E- archival number: E-E-pho-Y066-opc
See Letter L, 1986

Kozlov introduced the series with the following words:

    I made this funny photo series especially for your celebration! Do you like it? I wanted you to remember me and Leningrad vividly again — those impressions, entertainments, meetings, the spiritual atmosphere that I created for you here. The other people in the pictures that you don't know are our Halloween (and everything else, too, what do you think?).
    I'm sorry that we don't have an official Halloween day on some day of the year, but I just thought that in the Soviet Union, Halloween happens every day! (Letter L, 1986)

Kozlov was charmed by the fact that Mannick’s birthday was shortly before Halloween, and he regularly referred to it in his letters. His description of Halloween in Letter A is reminiscent of a Walpurgis Night – or of Bulgakov’s Devil’s midnight ball in “Master and Margarita”:

    The feast of witches and devils is coming soon, the black night will cover and hide their merriment and spin the dancing people. Shouts, songs and laughter all go into one stream. (Letter A, 1979)

In the Soviet Union, Halloween was largely unknown and, accordingly, the custom of carving pumpkins was also unknown, but such magic elements can be seen in Kozlov’s B(L)ACK ART design. In October 1986, when she visited Kozlov’s studio and flat, Mannick took a picture of the 1986 painting CCCP-USA, where two such mischievous “pumpkin” heads, provided with the latitude and longitude lines of a globe, are crowned with CCCP flags or emblems. This fits Kozlov’s ironic remark that “in the Soviet Union, Halloween happens every day”.

(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




The desire to create something “special, extreme in style, new” propelled him to search for new features. Perhaps the pumpkin heads account for the “shock moment” he was searching for before Mannick’s visit:

    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)

In the 1980s, Kozlov’s artistic language changed and evolved at great speed. With his B(L)ACK ART concept, he definitively did away with what he perceived as contemporary Soviet art’s poor and dull image. Using magic with a plus sign, he replaced boring with intriguing, simplistic with refined, and marginal with universal.

 (E-E) Evgenij Kozlov ПоПс из ССССР – PoPs from the USSSR Valery Alakhov, Catherine Mannick, and Georgy Guryanov Painted vintage print, 10 x 15 cm, 1986. Letter L to Catherine Mannick from late October 1986, page 5. Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Special Collection, Harvard University E-E archival number: E-E-pho-Y018-opc2 The same print, but with a different design, is in Kozlov‘s album "It’s the Fashion" (1984-1990)

(E-E) Evgenij Kozlov

ПоПс из ССССР – PoPs from the USSSR

Valery Alakhov, Catherine Mannick, and Georgy Guryanov
Painted vintage print, 10 x 15 cm, 1986.
Letter L to Catherine Mannick from late October 1986, page 5.

E-E archival number: E-E-pho-Y018-opc2

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

See Letter L, 1986



In a picture from Letter L with New Composer Valery Alakhov, Catherine Mannick, and Georgy Guryanov, two painted elements resume his concept. To the left, Alakhov is holding a holding a “smiling sickle”, the emblem of the USSR turned into a positive logotype. To the right, decorating Guryanov’s coat like a huge medal, is the script “ПоПс из ССССР”  — PoPs from the USSSR.

Hannelore Fobo, 10 March 2024



[1] See Diaries, Introduction Chapter 1. Reflections on art and creation more >>

[2] See Diaries, Introduction. List of artists, writers, and musicians more >>

[3] See also Preliminary Remarks. Sending art, pictures and other presents. more >>

[4] The exhibition was called “The Human Being and Nature in Contemporary Painting and Graphic Works”. See Diary IV, notes to pp. 68-69 more >>

[5] In 2017, Kozlov spoke about German art being inclined “to show the morbid aspect of human life”. Ibid.

[6] New Artists membership was never formalised. While there is a general consensus among art historians about the beginning of the group’s activities in 1982, there are diverging opinions regarding its end. See also Letter I. Footnote 7, as well as: Hannelore Fobo. Timur Novikov's New Artists Lists, 2018, especially page 1, The New Artists: dating the group’s existence and defining its lineup more >>, and page 11, The New Artists’ lifespan: a wondrous metamorphosis more >>.

[7] Khlobystin, Andrey. Шизореволюция. Очерки петербургской культуры второй половины ХХ века. / Schizorevolution. Essays on the Petersburg culture of the second half of the twentieth century. 2017, Borey Art Center, Saint Petersburg, p. 30
See also Letter L, footnote 16.

[8]. When exactly he knew of them he cannot remember, but in the second half of the 1980s, he translated into Russian Art After Midnight: The East Village Scene, Steven Hager’s illustrated book from 1986. (See also introduction to Letter L)

[9] In her article from 2012 “A New Wave Classical Aesthetics: The Paintings and Graphic Art of The New Artists”, Ekaterina Andreeva borrows the term “New Wave” from the 1981 show New York / New Wave – which presented, among others, Jean-Michel Basquiat – and uses it without any reference to music. At the same time she suggests that there is “little reason to believe” that the New Artists knew about this show and comes to the conclusion that “the New Artists first heard about the new wave after meeting with Joanna Stingray in March 1984”. The English translation of this sentence, taken from the book, is however somewhat more categorical than the original Russian text which reads “НХ наверняка получили информацию…”, “the New Artists very probably first heard about…”

Andreeva, Ekaterina. The New Artists. Edited by Ekaterina Andreeva and Nelly Podgorskaya. Moscow: Moscow Museum of Modern Art, 2012, pp 39-40.

However, when and whether at all musician Joanna Stingray told her Leningrad artist friends about East Village artists remains a matter of speculation. In her biography “Red Wave”, Stingray recalls her meeting with Andy Warhol in 1985, but doesn’t mention any other artists.

[10] The geometrical colouring of the “Fashion Show” pictures from Letter K (1986) more >> allows to consider them to be new wave art to some extent.

[11] For a detailed description of stylistic devices see: Hannelore Fobo. B(L)ack art 1985-1987, 2012 more >>.




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 1: 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