Neo naturists

What did the Russians make of Francis Bacon?

The KGB might not have known much about modern art, but they knew what they liked. For instance, at what came to be called the ‘Bulldozer show’ of 15 September 1974, the Soviet secret service instructed a small militia of off-duty policemen to besiege an unofficial exhibition being staged by a group of underground artists in a field on the outskirts of Moscow. As James Birch recalls, KGB goons ‘attacked the show, using bulldozers and water cannons. Artists and onlookers were beaten up, some paintings were set on fire, other works were thrown into tipper lorries where mud was piled on top by diggers’. Surviving artworks were ‘driven off to