The Russian avant-garde - the art of modern Russia in the 1910s and 1920s - constitutes one of the most brilliant chapters in the history of European modernism. Here was a new form of art, one that distilled the most audacious achievements of Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism, and incorporated them with verve into local folk traditions, be they from the Russian Orthodox Church or the thriving Jewish communities in Western Russia. The indefatigably radiant power of the Russian avant-garde derives from the fact that, for all its abstraction and spiritualism, the experience of everyday life, religion and folk traditions pulsates from within. This new art unleashed boundless resources of strength, knowledge, passion and depth, and demonstrated that the creation of even a single straight line, a single coloured cipher, came with enormous responsibility. What is more, the art of the Russian avant-garde played a major role in history itself, as a tool of the newly created Soviet state. Modern European movements had always sprung out of resistance to the values of mainstream, academic art. In Russia, by contrast, this revolutionary art was adopted as the "official" art of the Soviet state, albeit only for a short while. The communist regime would soon deny its own avant-garde artistic traditions, so when - after the end of Stalinism, in the 1960s - this neglected art was discovered afresh, its impact was all the more dramatic, stunning and powerful, underlined by each new monograph and every new exhibition.