The interchange between art and politics has long been a focal point of Russian cultural production. This course will survey the dynamic relationship between aesthetic innovation and political transformation in Russia from 1860 to the present. In doing so, it will cultivate appreciation of a wide range of artistic achievements originating in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Class members will employ a comparative approach to explore how various Russian artists responded to changing local circumstances, while also positioning themselves in relation or opposition to significant socio-political events occurring in Western Europe and America. Special attention will be devoted to considering how Russian artists engaged themes that are central to the study of aesthetics and politics worldwide, including artistic autonomy; participation and collaboration; the relationship between art and life; abstraction and representation; mass media and popular culture; commodification and institutionalization; and avant-gardism. Individuals and groups to be discussed include the Wanderers, the Russian Futurists, the Russian Constructivists, Ilya Kabakov, Komar & Melamid, the Moscow Actionists, and Pussy Riot. No acquaintance with Russian language or culture is assumed.