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Iron Curtain: a new social history by Anne Applebaum

If you’d like to read archetypical nightmare design stories, one needs only type in the URL “Clientsfromhell.net” and you’ll find a tonne. If you want to find some unique nightmare design and art stories, though, I’d advise reading Anne Applebaum’s new social history of Stalinist Eastern Europe. In it are tales of dreadful state-artist collaborations, including the story behind the post-impressionist painter Max Lingner’s forced pairing with the very picky and uncreative and dictatorial East German leader Otto Grotewohl. The communist newspapers called the teaming exemplary of “the new relationship between Art and the People,” but the results are as depressing as a failed state.

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