Manual Russian and Soviet Painting

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Soviet art is the visual art that was produced after October Socialist Revolution of in the Soviet Russia (—) and Soviet Union (—).
Table of contents

The pairing also serves as a reminder of the power of public art in an age when state-funded culture in America is under threat and art speculators, most notoriously Russian oligarchs, persist in fostering a market of engorged prices. The Russian art show is a fittingly giant exhibition that amasses a welter of early Soviet visual culture, from paintings to porcelain, photographs, films, and even a full-size recreation of an apartment designed by El Lissitzky, a leading avant-garde polymath who worked in numerous media.

In this early period, efforts to construct a new world manifested in countless modernist icons of leaders and workers — and in the abstract shapes and hues of the Constructivists , who aspired to create an original Communist lexicon.

Ivan Lindsay (author)|Rena Lavery (author)

The exhibition shows the full range of Soviet painting and graphic arts, from the increasingly precarious avant-garde, who tried to reconfigure art as production, to painterly landscapes celebrating Mother Russia by easel painters. In the final room stands a melancholy finale.


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A free-standing chamber contains projected arrest cards of the purged — including many artists, directors and writers — underscoring the sense of dashed dreams. Ultimately, the exhibition provides a multifaceted, if somewhat overwhelming, portrayal of the Utopian bid to fashion a red planet as specifically depicted in a painting on display by Konstantin Yuon. The exhibition offers a well-chosen sample of paintings that serves as an excellent primer to the assorted styles of the era by familiar and lesser-known artists.

The show confirms the substance of American modern painting before abstract expressionism , although a fearsome image by the emergent Jackson Pollock feels like an outlier. It might just as well have been made in the s. Edward Hopper whose Gas, also eerily timeless rather than timely, is on display and Charles Burchfield had long been exploring such peculiarities of American vernacular idioms. This ghoulish vision of desperation shows the weary contestants of the dehumanising competition of the Depression in distorted expressionist forms. It is not strictly fair to compare this smaller US exhibition of paintings with the gigantic, multimedia Soviet show.

A juxtaposition of the two exhibitions could invite the conclusion that in the s American individualism contrasted with the Soviet mass mind — and such an outlook could easily be countered. We set the course that many artists later followed throughout the Soviet republics.

Of course, it was dangerous to chart such a course at that time.

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But I followed my heart. I did what my heart told me to do.

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We were severely criticized. They tried to stop us. They publicly criticized our works. Sometimes on the day just prior to the opening of a major exhibition, officials would come and demand that certain works be taken down. The excuse was that they simply did not fit into the broader scheme of Socialist Realism. Again, look at my painting of the Women of Absheron. It provides another example of Severe Style. These women are waiting for their men to return from Oil Rocks.

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Revoliutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test | The Art Institute of Chicago

The families of those workers, their wives and children, were always waiting and anticipating the return of their men. They were always anxious about them because the sea can be dangerous. Suddenly tornadoes can whip up out of nowhere. So, they were always worried for their fathers, husbands and brothers.

10 impressionist paintings showing Soviet life through rose-tinted spectacles

The powerfully moving story of the Russian Jewish choreographer who used dance to challenge despotism. Farewell to an Idea: Episodes from a History of Modernism. In this intense, far-reaching, and poignant book — a book that sums up the work of a lifetime — the acclaimed art historian T. Clark rewrites the history of modern art tracing it through the period of Soviet rule.

A History of Soviet Art

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, he explains, the project called socialism may have come to an end at roughly the same moment as modernism. Did modernism and socialism depend on each other for their vitality — for their sense. Have they died? Bolshevik forces marching on Red Square image from Wikimedia Commons. Shifting between broad, speculative history and intense analysis of specific works, Clark not only transfigures our usual understanding of modern art, he also launches a new set of proposals about modernity itself.

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Revoliut siia! Available July , pre-order here.


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  5. To mark the centenary of the Russian Revolution, this landmark book gathers information from the forefront of current research in early Soviet art, providing a new understanding of where art was presented, who saw it, and how the images incorporated and conveyed Soviet values.

    The works featured in this study are grouped into areas of critical importance for the production, reception, and circulation of early Soviet art: battlegrounds, schools, theaters, the press, storefronts, exhibitions, factories, festivals, and homes. Paintings by El Lissitzky and Liubov Popova are joined by sculptures, costumes and textiles, decorative arts, architectural models, books, magazines, films, and more. Bountifully illustrated, this book offers an unprecedented, cross-disciplinary analysis of two momentous decades of Soviet visual culture.

    Moscow Vanguard Art: Ambitious and interdisciplinary, Moscow Vanguard Art: tells the story of generations of artists who resisted Soviet dictates on aesthetics, spanning the Russian avant-garde, socialist realism, and Soviet postwar art in one volume.