The Nukus Museum of Art in Karakalpakstan, one of the most remote regions of the former Soviet Union, is a modern-day miracle on many levels. Its creation, collection and precarious persistence seem entirely improbable, were it not all documented in a fine new film, “The Desert of Forbidden Art“.

Like the Irish monks who helped save the written word during the Dark Ages, a man named Igor Savitsky worked to save Russian avant-garde artwork during the decades of dark Soviet repression. In 1932 the Soviets called for an end to so-called “degenerate” bourgeois art, halting one of the most fertile and creative periods of modern art anywhere in the world. Instead, the Soviets unleashed several decades of shticky socialist-realist paintings of happy factory workers and robust women working the land. No official museum dared show anything else.

Continue reading in The Economist


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