Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute

A colorized photo of Mao and Khrushchev dining together.



Khrushchev and Mao: An Exhibit

This exhibit features pieces by the artists Valera and Natasha Cherkashin.

Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) had perhaps one of the most colorful personalities of all Soviet leaders. Lacking a formal education, he rose from a village shepherd to the leader of a world superpower, emerging by the mid-1950s as the country’s undisputed leader and Stalin’s successor.

This exhibit explores Khrushchev’s visit to China in 1959.  At the time of this historic visit, color photography did not yet exist in the USSR.  As a popular substitute, many black and white photographs were enlarged and hand-painted to resemble color photographs.  Some photographers, including Boris Mikhailov, used this technique in their art.

The exhibit features pieces by the artists Valera and Natasha Cherkashin.  These pieces, using images from the Cherkashins’ own collection, are treated digitally in imitation of this popular technique.  The works include newspaper clips from this period, and the exhibit will also feature popular Khrushchev and Mao jokes from that time.