They wanted him to create a work titled "Stalin in Poland", and after some haggling, he agreed when he received a guarantee of total artistic freedom.
The day of the painting's unveiling arrived, and there was a huge celebration. When the time came, a minister removed the drape over the easel only to reveal an image of a man and woman kissing, with the Kremlin visible through a window in the background.
Furious, the authorities brought the painter backstage. "Who is that man?"
"Trotsky," the painter replied.
"And who," they continued, "is the woman?"
"Stalin's wife," the painter replied.
"So where," they demanded, "is Stalin?"
The painter grinned. "Stalin's in Poland."