Strategic Monuments: Zurab Tsereteli’s Gift Sculptures to the United States in the Eras of Détente, Perestroika, and Anti-Terrorism, 1979-20061)

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Best known for transforming the look of Moscow in the 1990s, sculptor and artist Zurab Tsereteli has also donated gift monuments abroad to coincide with diplomatic initiatives of the Soviet Union and Russia. This article examines Tsereteli’s gift monuments to the United States, spanning from the era of détente in the late-1970s to the brief window of anti-terrorist solidarity after 11 September 2001. The monuments are located mostly in or near New York City, although the unfortunate Columbus monument still awaits a permanent home (contrary to rumor, however, it did not return to Moscow as Peter the Great). While the motives and intentions informing the gifts provide the initial footing for the reception of the works, they fade to obscurity as the monuments accrue a legacy within the host community over time.

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