Rembrandts for Tractors: Soviet Art Export under Stalin

December 9, 2022 | 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

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This event is taking place at the Munk School, 1 Devonshire Place, Seminar Room 208, North House, Toronto.
At the end of the 1920s and through the beginning of the 1930s, Stalin’s leadership sold art abroad by thousands of tons. Stalin’s art export became one of the extraordinary sources to finance Soviet industrialization. When the sale of ordinary antiques failed to satisfy the financial needs, the decision was made by Stalin’s Politburo to shift to the export of major museum masterpieces. The former Imperial Hermitage being the major Russian and world-famous depositary of the best examples of Western art had to suffer first and most. As a result of the unprecedented sale, the masterpieces from the Soviet Union found their way to private collections and world museums.   
Elena A. Osokina is Professor of Russian History at the University of South Carolina. She received her Ph.D. from the Department of History at Moscow University, Russia (1987). She has authored 5 books published in Russian, English, Italian and Chinese, and numerous articles published in the major journals in Russia, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Finland, and Italy. More specifically her research focuses on the impact that the Soviet industrialization of the 1930s had on everyday life, social hierarchy, transformation of the economy, and the nature of Stalinism. The most recent book came out in 2021 by Cornell UP Stalin’s Quest for Gold. Also available in English: Our Daily Bread: Socialist Distribution and the Art of Survival in Stalin’s Russia, 1927–1941 (2001). Elena Osokina received two book prizes: the Makariev book prize and the Prosvetitel’ book prize (both in 2019). She is a recipient of the fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, Kennan Institute-Woodrow Wilson Center, National Endowment for the Humanities, Fulbright, the National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), Hoover Institution Archives, Davis Center for Russian Studies (Harvard University), La Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (Paris, France), Aleksanteri Institute (Helsinki, Finland), and others. Before coming to USC, Elena Osokina taught at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Oberlin College, and Missouri State University, and internationally at the Donaueschingen Academy (on the invitation of the Council of Europe) and Leuphana Universität Lüneburg (both in Germany).
Sponsored Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies and Holodomor Research ad Education Consortium, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta
Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine, Centre for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies


Elena Osokina

Professor of History, University of South Carolina

Ksenya Kiebuzinski

Head of the Petro Jacyk Central & East European Resource Centre, and Slavic Resources Coordinator, for the University of Toronto Libraries.