Russian Immigrant Artists? Success as a Function of the Relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union
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During three periods in the 20th Century, there have been notable surges in emigration from Russia to the United States. These periods coincide with distinct changes in the relationship between the two countries. This project evaluates the effect of this relationship on an immigrant artist?s success or failure in the United States. Immediately following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, over thirty-thousand Russian citizens immigrated to the United States in search of intellectual freedom and opportunity. David Burliuk was one of these immigrants. Despite his success as an integral part of the Russian avant-garde, he chose to leave in hopes of achieving similar success in the more liberally minded United States. The developing relationship between the US and USSR during the time of Burliuk?s emigration had a dramatic affect on his life. While Americans initially applauded Russia? effort to move toward a more representative form of government, by the time the October Revolution began to unfold, President Wilson declared the Bolsheviks a threat to the liberal and capitalist ideal. This first red scare created a hostile environment for Russian ?migr?s in the United States. Many converted to Protestantism, changed their names, or made no reference to their Russian past. Burliuk?s work exhibits an assimilation to popular American stylistic movements of the time, which suggests an attempt to transition from being considered a Russian immigrant artist to being considered an American artist. Despite his attempts, Burliuk never achieved the success he had hoped for in the United States. Through an analysis his life, I argue that the political relationship between the two countries played a considerable role in what Burliuk, as an immigrant artist, could achieve. In so doing, I lay the foundation for a broader study of the relationship between US-USSR politics and the careers of ?migr? artists.