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May 26, 1957 - Image 18

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Page Ten


.Sunday, May 26, 1957

5i inclcrv. Mov, 226, :'1957


Jurruuyr lyluy d.v .+ ... _


The Art of


How Soviet Students Reacted to the October Revolution

Practiced Since Ancient Times, It Has Potential Toc

Rebels Wave the Hungarian, Tricolor in Front of Budapest Parliament

(EDITOR'S NOTE: Below is the
translated text of a letter written
early in January by a student at
Moscow University. The letter was
printed in the February issue of
"Forum," a monthly publication of
the Congress for Cultural Freedom.
Very slight changes were made by
"Forum" to protect the identity of
the writer. Parts of the letter were
printed recently by "The Nation.")
radio stations and a report by
Radio Warsaw we understood that
the events at Moscow's Lomonos-
sov University had become known
in the West, but we noted that
their development and extent was
not correctly assessed in the West.
For us Russian students, November
30. 1956 is a memorable day, some
say a historic day.
After the compulsory lecture on
Maixgrf-Leninism by Professor B.
E. Syroyet, kovich the usual dis-
cussion was held ii. fhe. course of
which ore student posea e ques-
tion of decisive importance, per-
haps the decisive question of
Marxism. At first he presented the
correct Leninist tenet that the
general strike is the weapon of the
proletariat, aad that under certain
historical circumstances the gen-
eral strike for economic reasons
can assume political significance
and may finally change into an
armed uprising.
After having pointed to Lenin's
tenet, and after having added that
the general strike can never be an
instrument of the exploiting class,
he asked how it is possible that in
a socialist country or more direct-
ly, how in the Hungarian Peoples'
Democracy, a general strike could
take place, since a general strike
against a communist workers' and
peasants' government is considered
Professor Syroytchkovich could
only answer what was published
in our daily press. This, however,
was not enough for a discussion on
the university level. He began to
speak about the terror of forty-
fascist officers, and about the sub-
versive activities of Western in-
perialists, but his words were
drowned out by the students' pro-

tests who proved to him with a
barrage of Lenin quotations that
ie had not touched the actual
F INLLYsomeone quoted Len-
F classic words on the task
of the "Party of a new type" which
is obliged to take over the de-
mands proclaimed by the workers
in the general strike, and to direct
thema. It was pointed out that the
Party of the new type must never
take action against a general
strike with the methods of the
bourgeois exploiters state, with
martial law, military force, and
the forcible dissolution of workers
councils. At this point the discus-
sion deteriorated into a noisy
chaos, and the professor preferred
to leave.
News of this soon spread quickly
all over the students' quarters be-
hind the University. The discus-
sions continued, and late in the
evening Hungarian students were
aroused from their beds to report
on the conditions in their country.
Apparently the Hungarian stu-
dents were not used to such frank
discussions, and in view of the
political changes which had taken
place in their country, avoided.all
crucial questions. Nevertheless
their revelations provided suffi-
cient material for comparisons
with conditions in the Soviet
In the course of discussions one
question emerged, a question which
is of utmost importance for the
system of "established socialism,"
namely: has not the Party bureau-
cracy, even though it has no for-
mal right to society's means of
production, already become an ex-
ploiting class in the original Marx-
ist meaning by its actual control
and utilization of the means of
production, by its control, over the
labor force and wages? No agree-
ment was reached on this ques-
N THE following day hand-
written papers appeared on the
bulletin boards of the Komsomol

organization at the Lomonossov
University, putting forth a demand
for accurate reports on and a
free discussion of Hungary. The
contents of these papers, which
had disappeared at the beginning
of the lectures, were spread by
word of mouth. New notices ap-
peared on the billboards at noon
in which a meeting of the Kom-
somol aktiv was called to discuss
the "shameful" events of the pre-
ceding day. Later on, the word
"shameful" was deleted.
The meeting took place in the
Ostrovski clubhouse, and was
opened by the Secretary of the
Komsomol organization, Linkov,
with a remark which had the effect
of provoking most of the partici-
pants. He declared it a duty of the
Komsomol to prevent in the future
such "excesses which are unworthy
of academic institutions." The im-
mediate result of this was a new
In a quickly improvised vote it
was decided to make a discussion
on "the Hungarian question in
the light of Marxism-Leninism"
the only item on the agenda, and
thus the officials were deprived of
control over the discussion. The
first speaker even talked about
the "excessively bureaucratized
apparatus" which has lost contact
with the masses, and which tries
to stay in power with the methods
of the already unmasked Beria.
This referred to Hungary, but the
comparison with the Soviet Union
suggested itself, and was openly
mentioned; Zoue must ask wheth-
er the disregard of the decisions
of the Twentieth Party Congress
could not cause a similar develop-
ment here, and whether it is not
possible that some day our work-
ers will rise under the banner of
Lenin against their bureaucratic
exploiters which have become
When Linkov protested against
this "anti-Party remark" and
tried to take the floor from the
speaker, he encountered such vio-
lent protest that he left the hall
together with other officials. The
discussion, however, continued

and spread also to members of the
Komsomol aktiv.
IN THE evening the discussion
was resumed by a circle of
young writers and students in the
"House of Literature." The Hun-
garian events were no longer the
center of discussion but were only
used as an example of what could
happen anywhere, including the
Soviet Union. From this arose the
further question about the class
character of Soviet society.
Almost all the participants in
the discussion agreed that the of-
ficial formula about the "alliance
of workers and peasants with the
intellectuals under the leadership
of the working class was incor-
rect, and that also in the Soviet
state the conflict between exploit-
ers and exploited continues. Only
.one characteristic of the exploit-
ing class, personal ownership of
the means of production" had
The present right of the work-
ers to the ownership of the means
of production is only formal, and
the party's preferential treatment
of heavy industry, supported by a
centralist administrative system,
has provided the class character
of Soviet society with a legal ba-
sis: for their own protection, the
beneficiaries have established the
same type of class justice as exists
in the bourgeois society for the
protection of the exploiting class.
As well as in the old capitalist
system any opposition against the
exploiters in the new socialist sys-
tem is branded and- punished as
high treason by a class-conscious
justice. This, however, means that
the aims of the October revolution
had been just the opposite.
THE young writers were bound
to embark on the problem of
freedom of spiritual and artistic
creation. Starting on the basis of
the decisions of the twentieth
Party Congress they condemned
the literature written since the
Thirties as the product of a pro-
paganda machine influenced by
the personality cult and directed

by anti-cultural party secretaries.
The "different paths toward so-
cialism" which had been approved
in principle by the twentieth Par-
ty Congress were also touched in
the discussion.
Since these paths are already
used by the peoples of Yugoslavia
and Poland and have beerl prac-
tically recognized by the Soviet
Union, they should also be recog-
nized as being applicable to the
different peoples of the Soviet
Union which started the construc-
tion of socialism under varying
In this problem the first sharp
differences appeared between the
students and writers. The Rus-
sians among them firmly rejected
the demand for separate socialist
paths for the Ukraine, the Baltic
countries, and Central Asia, and
stated that this would constitute
a threat to the Soviet economic
power, and would result in the
dissolution of the Soviet Union
into a number of national states,
even though today national states
must be considered a thing of the
past; not nationality but the so-
ciological structure and the area
of economic coordination charac-
terizes the state.
Next day reports were spread
of a meeting of the Moscow City
Committee of the Komsomol on
the situation at the Lomonossov
University. Reportedly the Kom.
somol leaders tried at first to clar-
ify whether these incidents should
be considered a negative or a pos-
itive phenomenon.
TM_ member of the Moscow City
Committee, Artemov, suggested
that action should be taken
against demagogues who go too
far, but that the events should be
considered positive since they
could help in freeing the youth
movement from its stagnation.
Artemov, however, was unable to
assert himself.
The committee decided to "ad-
vise" the Dean of the Lomonossov
University to expel a number of
See A LETTER, Page 18'

IT IS AMAZING, with the pre-
ponderance of blank walls avail-
able inside and outside in the
United States today, that more
architects don't take a hint from
the past and adopt the mosaic to
enhance their buildings. Or, if the
architects have an abhorrence of
the archaic, they might look at our
near neighbors, the Mexicans, who
within the last decade executed a
ten-story mosaic mural at the Uni-
versity of Mexico.
Juan O'Gorman, whom James
Norman describes as an "architect
with a painters' eye and a painter
with an architect's sensibilities,"
was given the task of "doing some-
thing" with the top of the Univer-
sity's library, whih was plain wall,
massive, and a virtual skyscraper
compared to its fellow campus
buildings. This ten-story a r e a
housed only library stacks so it
lacked even the relief of windows,
except for one small slit in the
center of each floor. O'Gorman
considered the problem and came
up with the pebbled mosaic as the
solution. He proceeded to create
this mosaic made of indigenous
crushed rock o various colors, and
depicting the symbolic representa-
tions of pre-Hispanic and colonial
cultural history.
The Mexicans have always felt
that some sort of art belongs to
every building, so the task seemed
neither preposterous nor impos-
sible. The Americans might well
have paused before taking on such
a program, as we seem to favor
blank white walls and sterile con-
crete. Perhaps this is what prompt-
ed Diego Rivera's caustic remark
concerning Anglo-Saxon architec-
ture-"The best thing they can do
with it is to cover it with ivy."
The mosaic is not restrictedto
building exteriors, nor to the use
of stone, nor is it peculiar to the
Mexicans. It has been used in
many ways, employing innumer-
able materials, and been found in
most cultures of the Eastern and
Western world. Mosaic itself may
be defined as the combination of~
different colored small pieces of
hard substance, such as marble,
stone, glass, ceramic tile and tes-
serae (fragments), set in some sort
of cement or mastic, forming a
design which may be either a geo-
metric pattern or a picture. The
term "mosaic" in its broadest
sense may even be used to include
the art of cloisine and inlay, for
it is difficult to tell where one
stops (are the small pieces of jew-
elry made of tiny precious stones
set in cement miniature mosaics
or cloisine?) and the other begins
(is it correct to call the tables of
India made of ivory and wood mo-
saic, or inlay?).
Since Early Times...
THE ART of Mosaic was prac-
ticed in Egypt from very early
times, and later the Greeks became
highly proficient mosaicists, even-
tually its chief exponents. They
used marble, and finally intro-
duced glass tesserae. The Romans
used it extensively on villa floors
and pavements, and their tech-
niques and designs, along with
those of the Byzantine glass mo-
saicists, form the classical basis
of most of the mosaics of our time.
The use of ceramic tesserae, or
small pieces of tile, is, in my
opinion, one of the most reward-
ing because of the Twentieth Cen-
tury's knowledge of klaze colors,
textures, and durability of this ma-
terial, and so will make up the
major portion of this discussion.-
Probably the earliest example of
ceramic mosaic is the yellow ter-
racotta of-Warka, Chaldea. This
"cone ornamentation" has been
found in the Ziggurat tower, where

the upper part of the walls were
decorated in panels with a mosaic
of large clay cones, hbllow like
vases, and sunk into mud plaster.
An interesting effect was made by
the white rims and dark shadows

The Vibrance and Dynamic Quality
Peculiar to This Medium Offer
A Challenge to the Modern Artist

of the interior, with the hollows
taking the place of color in the
design effect. In another building
at Warka, red, black, and white
pencil-like cones are found, and
these form simple geometric pat-
terns. It is thought perhaps these
mosaics were more than decora-
tive, having an architectural signi-
ficance as a preservative for the
mud plaster walls, for these cone
mosaics formed an almost water-\
proof covering for the building.
The cones were also excellent
acoustically, for they break up an
Before the destruction of Baby-
lon by Darius in 522 BC, enameled
brick reliefs were used in mosaics.
These date back to the time of
Nebuchadnezzar, who adorned the
city gate of Babylon with this type
of decoration, dedicating it to the
Goddess Ishtar. The reliefs were
of dynamic animals, heads held
high, proud and noble. One of the
most interesting was the dragon
of Babel, a monster part serpent,
part panther, with taloned back
legs, double-tongued head, and a
scorpion sting at the end of its
tail. Generally the animals were of
two colors on a blue ground, tur-
quoise, yellow and white predomin-
ating. Segments of these glazes
were examined in the laboratories
in England and were found to be
much like the vitreous coating or
glaze colored by metallic oxides
used by the Egyptians, and indeed
employed today.
Egyptian Glazes..
NOT ONLY were the beautiful
turquoise glazes of the Egyp-
tians, dating back to 500 BC, of
note, but also the tiles themselves,
often ribbed or having convex sur-
faces. These textures added greatly
to the decorative effect of the

mosaic; reflecting the light in an
unusual manner. Most of these
wall mosaics seem to have been
for decorative purposes only, and
were used on temples, pyramid
chambers, and palaces. In the
Temple of Rameses III at Tel el
Yehudia, the walls were revetted
with porcelain tile picturing leg-
ends and conquests of the mon-
Besides the use of flat tiles in
the mosaics, small relief patterns
of tiny rosettes measuring no more
than three-eighths of an inch to
four inches were employed, the-
tiny details having been modeled
on the clay before firing, -an
afterwards painted. Heiroglyphs,
See Cover Picture
incised in the clay tile, were also'
used in the make-up of the mosaic.
The many kinds of tesserae were
fixed into the wall by a fine
cement, oftent the pressure of
placing them individually pushing
up cement between the pieces. In
later mosaics this surplus of
cement was used to enhance the
overall effect, being painted in
some instances gold to highlight
the dark tiles, or a complimentary
color, or merely -blackened so as
not to detract from the picture
Spread to East-...
Whether the art of decorative
tilemaking originated in Babylon
or Egypt, it apparently spread east
to Persia, where it had come down
in an almost unbroken tradition
from the Chaldeans. The Persians
developed a mosaic tile which,
from the Fourteenth to the Seven-
teenth Century, was used in some
of the most beautiful polychrome
decoration in existence. Large tiles

of solid color were cut into small
shapes, which were then assembled
into rich and intricate patterns.
The main color used was *a deep
blue accented. by turquoise, with
bits of saffron, rich black, and
white used for outlining. The pre-
dominance of the exquisite blue
shades is undoubtedly due to the
abundance of cobalt, the coloring
agent, found near Kashan, where
the good clay was procured. The
beauty of the glazes was attributed
to surface richness; the glaze ap-
plied thickly enough to give the
color great depth. Combined with
this knowledge of glaze technique
was their drawing skill, the two
arts together making beautifully
intricate mosaic walls possible,
with fine detail of flowers painted
on individual tiles placed side by
As early as the Christian era
the Persians learned the secret of
"true glaze" - the use of clean
white sand and soda (or wood
ash of potash). These components
produced splendid glazes with ex-
cellent adhesion to the clay body.
The brilliance of the surface of
the glaze, plus the fine sensitivity
evidenced in the drawings of the
Persians, led them to be considered
the best decorative artists in the
world from the Eleventh to Seven-
teenth Centuries.
Persians Hid Flaws...
THE LUSTRE of these tiles
seems to have been developed
by the Persians themselves, rather
than an inheritance of ceramic
tradition of other countries. Un-
like their predecessors, the Chal-
deans, who used mosaic as an ar-
chitectural help, the Persians
used their mosaics to hide flaws
in the structure of their buildings.
,;? rf r. rr
q li:lyi {$;

TWO MOSAICS of small tes-
serae, a Byzantine wall mosaic
from Ravena (above) and a
Twentieth Century table (right)
made by Mrs. Hamme. She has
used only ceramic tile tesserae
and achieves the pattern of a
woman's figure by using differ-
ent glaze colors, hues and tex-
tures. The Byzantine mosaic,
made of many different materi-
als, achieves a startlingly brilli-
ant effect by employing a back-
ground of gold tesserae. Both
the Byzantine mosaicists (as far
as we know) and Mrs. Hamme
laid their pieces of tile individu-
ally in a kind of cement accord-
ing to a previous sketch.

I _

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