GREAT ART - Soviet Realism

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014
SOVIET RUSSIAN ART

СОВЕТСКОЙ РУССКОГО ИСКУССТВА
(Soviet Realism - советского реализма)

SOVIET ART
    
(Soviet Socialist Realism)


Socialist realism is a style of realistic art that was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in various other socialist countries.
Socialist realism is characterized by the glorified depiction of communist values, such as the emancipation of the proletariat, in a realistic manner.
Although related, it should not be confused with social realism, a broader type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern.
Socialist realism was the predominant form of art in the Soviet Union from its development in the early 1920s to its eventual fall from popularity in the late 1960s.

The Development of Soviet Social Realism

Socialist realism was developed by many thousands of artists, across a diverse empire, over several decades.
Early examples of realism in Russian art include the work of the Peredvizhnikis and Ilya Yefimovich Repin (see above).
While these works do not have the same political connotation, they exhibit the techniques exercised by their successors.
After the Bolsheviks took control of Russia on October 25, 1917 there was a marked shift in artistic styles.
There had been a short period of artistic exploration, in the time between the fall of the Tsar and the rise of the Bolsheviks.
In 1917 Russian artists began to return to more traditional forms of art and painting.

Анато́лий Васи́льевич Лунача́рский
(Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky)
Shortly after the Bolsheviks took control, Anatoly Lunacharsky was appointed as head of Narkompros, the People's Commissariat for Enlightenment.
This put Lunacharsky in the position of deciding the direction of art in the newly created Soviet state.
Lunacharsky created a system of aesthetics, based on the human body, that would become the main component of socialist realism for decades to come.
He believed (correctly) that "the sight of a healthy body, intelligent face or friendly smile was essentially life-enhancing."
He concluded that art had a direct effect on the human organism, and under the right circumstances that effect could be positive.
By depicting "the perfect person" (New Soviet Man), Lunacharsky believed art could educate citizens on how to be the perfect Soviets.
Анато́лий Васи́льевич Лунача́рский, (Anatoly Vasilyevich Lunacharsky - November 23 [O.S. November 11] 1875 – December 26, 1933) was a Russian Marxist revolutionary, and the first Soviet People's Commissar of Education, responsible for culture and education. He was active as an art critic and journalist throughout his career.  Lunacharsky helped his former colleague, Alexander Bogdanov, found a semi-independent proletarian art movement, 'Proletkult'. Lunacharsky was known as an art connoisseur and a critic. He had been interested in philosophy (not only Marxist dialectics) since he was a student (for instance, he was fond of the ideas of Fichte, Nietzsche, Avenarius). He could read six modern languages and two dead ones. Lunacharsky corresponded with H. G. Wells, Bernard Shaw, and Romain Rolland
The Debate within Soviet Art


There were two main groups debating the fate of Soviet art - 'futurists' and 'traditionalists'.
Russian Futurists, many of whom had been creating 'abstract' art before the Bolsheviks, believed communism required a complete rupture from the past, and therefore so did Soviet art.
Traditionalists believed in the importance of realistic representations of everyday life. 
Under Lenin's rule, and the New Economic Policy, there was a certain amount of private commercial enterprise, allowing both the 'futurist' and the traditionalist to produce their art for individuals with capital.
By 1928, the Soviet government had enough strength and authority to end private enterprises, thus ending support for fringe groups such as the 'futurists'.
At this point, although the term 'socialist realism' was not being used, its defining characteristics became the norm.
The first time the term 'socialist realism' was officially used was in 1932.

Ио́сиф Виссарио́нович Ста́лин
Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin
© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2015
Алексе́й Макси́мович Пешко́в
Maxim Gorky
Akseli Gallen Kallela
The term was settled upon in meetings that included the highest level politicians, including Stalin himself.
Алексе́й Макси́мович Пешко́в (Maxim Gorky), a proponent of literary socialist realism, published a famous article titled 'Socialist Realism' in 1933, and by 1934 the term's etymology was traced (not surprisingly) back to Stalin.
Gorky was active with the emerging Marxist social-democratic movement. He publicly opposed the Tsarist regime, and for a time closely associated himself with Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov's Bolshevik wing of the party. For a significant part of his life, he was exiled from Russia and later the Soviet Union. In 1932, he returned to Russia on Joseph Stalin's personal invitation and died in June 1936.
During the Congress of 1934, four guidelines were laid out for socialist realism.
The work must be:
  • Proletarian: art relevant to the workers and understandable to them.
  • Typical: scenes of everyday life of the people.
  • Realistic: in the representational sense.
  • Partisan: supportive of the aims of the State and the Party.
The Characteristics of 'Socialist Realism'

'Socialist Realism' had its roots in 'Neoclassicism', and the traditions of realism in Russian literature of the 19th century that described the life of simple people. 
It was exemplified by the aesthetic philosophy of Maxim Gorky. 
'Socialist Realism' was a product of the Soviet system. 
Whereas in market societies professional artists earned their living selling to, or being commissioned by rich individuals or the Church, in Soviet society not only was the market suppressed, there were few if any individuals able to patronize the arts and only one institution – the State itself. 

Hence artists became state employees. 
As such the State set the parameters for what it employed them to do. 
What was expected of the artist was that he/she be formally qualified, and to reach a standard of competence.
The State, after the Congress of 1934, laid down four rules for what became known as "Socialist Realism":
The purpose of 'socialist realism' was to produce a popular culture that promoted Soviet ideals.
The party was of the utmost importance, and was always to be favorably featured.
The key concepts that developed assured loyalty to the party, "partiinost'" (party-mindedness), "ideinost" (idea or ideological-content), "klassovost" (class content), "pravdivost" (truthfulness).
There was a prevailing sense of optimism; 'socialist realism's' function was to show the ideal Soviet society.
Not only was the present gloried, but the future was also supposed to be depicted in an agreeable fashion.
Because the present and the future were constantly idolized, socialist realism had a distinct sense of optimism.
Tragedy and negativity were not permitted, unless they were shown in a different time or place.
This sentiment created what would later be dubbed 'revolutionary romanticism'. 
'Revolutionary romanticism' elevated the common worker, whether factory or agricultural, by presenting his life, work, and recreation as admirable.
Its purpose was to show how much the standard of living had improved, thanks to the revolution.
Art was used as educational information.


'The New Soviet Man (and Woman)'
By illustrating the party's success, artists were showing their viewers that Sovietism was the best political system.

Art was also used to show how Soviet citizens should be acting.
The ultimate aim was to create what Lenin called "an entirely new type of human being": 'The New Soviet Man'.
Art (especially posters and murals) was a way to instill party values on a massive scale. 
Stalin described the socialist realist artists as "engineers of souls".


Flight and New Technology
Aleksandr Deineka
Sunlight, the Body, and  Youth
 Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky
Common images used in 'Socialist Realism' were flowers (Stalin had a great love for flowers), sunlight, the body, youth, flight, industry, and new technology.
These poetic images were used to show the utopianism of Communism and the Soviet State.
Art became more than an aesthetic pleasure, instead it served a very specific function. 
Soviet ideals placed functionality and work above all else, therefore for art to be admired it must serve a purpose.
Georgi Plekhanov, a Marxist theoretician, states that art is only useful if it serves society
"There can be no doubt that art acquired a social significance only in so far as it depicts, evokes, or conveys actions, emotions and events that are of significance to society."

The artist could not, however, portray life just as they saw it; because anything that reflected poorly on Communism had to be omitted.
People who could not be shown as either 'wholly good' or 'wholly evil' could not be used as characters.
This was reflective of the Soviet idea that morality is simple, things are either 'right' or 'wrong'.
This view on morality called for idealism over realism.
Art was filled with health and happiness; paintings showed busy industrial and agricultural scenes, and sculptures depicted workers, sentries, and schoolchildren.


Soviet Socialist Classical Style of Architecture
In conjunction with the 'Soviet Socialist Classical' style of architecture, 'Socialist Realism' was the officially approved type of art in the Soviet Union for nearly sixty years.
All material goods and means of production belonged to the community as a whole; this included means of producing art, which were also seen as powerful propaganda tools.
So called 'modern art' was rejected by members of the Communist Party, who did not appreciate modern styles such as Impressionism and Cubism, since these movements existed before the revolution, and were thus associated with "decadent bourgeois art". 'Socialist Realism' was, to some extent, a reaction against the adoption of these "decadent" styles.
The disdain for 'decadent art' is similar in many ways to the National Socialist view regarding 'Entartete Kunst'.
It was thought by Lenin (probably quiet correctly), that the non-representative forms of art were not understood by the proletariat, and could therefore not be used by the state for propaganda.

Андре́й Алекса́ндрович Жда́нов
Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov
'Socialist Realism' became state policy in 1934, when the First Congress of Soviet Writers met, and Stalin's representative Andrei Zhdanov gave a speech strongly endorsing it as "the official style of Soviet culture".

Андре́й Алекса́ндрович Жда́нов (Andrei Alexandrovich Zhdanov - 26 February [O.S. 14 February] 1896 – 31 August 1948), was a Soviet politician. After World War II, he was thought to be the successor-in-waiting to Joseph Stalin, but Zhdanov predeceased Stalin.
'Soviet Social Realism' was enforced ruthlessly in all spheres of artistic endeavor.
Artists who strayed from the official line were severely punished.
Form and content were often limited, with erotic, religious, abstract, surrealist, and expressionist art being forbidden.
Formal experiments, including internal dialogue, stream of consciousness, nonsense, free-form association, and cut-up were also disallowed.
This was either because they were "decadent", unintelligible to the proletariat, or counter-revolutionary.






'Штурм Зимнего дворца'
'The Storming of the Winter Palace'




'Зимний дворец в плен'
 'The Winter Palace is Captured'
Владимир Серов
Vladimir Serov





'Ленина'
Lenin
Герасимов
Gerasimov (1930)

Alexander Mikhaylovich Gerasimov (Russian: Алекса́ндр Миха́йлович Гера́симов) (12 August 1881 – 23 July 1963) was a leading proponent of Socialist Realism in the visual arts, and painted Joseph Stalin and other Soviet leaders.
Gerasimov was born on 12 August 1881 in Kozlov (now Michurinsk) in Tambov Governorate. He studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture from 1903 to 1915. There he championed traditional realistic representational art against the avant-garde.
During World War I and the Russian Civil War he served in the army. Subsequently he returned to his hometown to become a stage designer, helping to present plays glorifying the Revolution and the Soviet government.






'советские партизаны'
'Soviet Partisans'
Митрофана Грекова
Mitrophan Grekov




'Сенокос'
'Haymaking'
Аркадий Александрович Пластов;
Arkady Alexandrovich Plastov

Arkady Alexandrovich Plastov (born 31 January [O.S. 19 January] 1893 in Prislonikha, Simbirsk Governorate; died 12 May 1972 in Prislonikha, Ulyanovsk Oblast) was a Russian socialist realist painter.
Plastov was born into a family of icon painters in the village Prislonikha in the Russian Governorate of Simbirsk.
He attended the sculpture department of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture beginning in 1914.
In 1917, he returned to his native village, where he occupied himself with painting, drawing from nature.
Starting in 1935, he steps introduces his category painting into the public.
According to the strict political-artistic doctrine of the time, which only permits the style of socialist realism, Plastov pictures the life in the Soviet Union, the pervasive building up of socialism. His work is characterized by life in the villages of the Soviet Union, his love for his native land, strong, live pictures and his skills of painting. As the reaction to the events, which moved the population of the Soviet Union at that time, Plastov showed in his pictures, how the village life had changed by the collectivization.
As models of the Protagonists of his works Plastov chose characters of his homeland village.
The outbreak of World War II inspired new motives for the work of Plastov.
He depictured suffering of the Soviet people, work of the women, old people and children on the kolkhoz fields during the war. After the war Plastov kept the values of village life.


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'Военный парад на Красной площади 7 ноября 1941'
'Military Parade in Red Square, 7th November 1941'
Константин Юон
Konstantin Yuon

Konstantin Fyodorovich Yuon or Juon (Russian: Константи́н Фёдорович Юо́н; October 24 [O.S. October 12] 1875 – April 11, 1958) was a noted Russian painter and theatre designer associated with the Mir Iskusstva. Later, he co-founded the Union of Russian Artists and the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia.




'Праздник Конституции'
'Holiday of the Constitution (1930)'
Исаак Израилевич Бродский
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky

Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky (Russian: Исаак Израилевич Бродский, 6 January 1884 [O.S. 25 December 1883] – August 14, 1939), was a Soviet painter whose work provided a blueprint for the art movement of socialist realism. He is known for his iconic portrayals of Lenin and idealized, carefully crafted paintings dedicated to the events of the Russian Civil War and Bolshevik Revolution.





Алексей Григорьевич Стахановского
'Aleksei Grigorievich Stakhanov'
(detail)
unknown artist





Молодых строителей коммунизма, Идите к новым достижениям в труде и образовании

'Young Builders of Communism,
Go Forth Towards the New Achievements in Labor and Education'
unknown artist





'Политбюро Центрального Комитета партии большевиков
на Восьмом Чрезвычайном съезде Советов'

'Politburo of the Central Committee of the Bolshevik Party
at the Eighth Extraordinary Congress of Soviets'
Павел Малков
Pavel Malkov





'Единство русского народа'
'The Unity of the Russian People'
Михаил Хмелько
Mikhail Khmelko

Mykhailo Ivanovych Khmelko (Ukrainian: Михайло Іванович Хмелько, 23 October 1919 - 15 January 1996) was a Ukrainian painter, People's Artist of the Ukrainian SSR, and double Stalin prize winner.
Mykhailo Khmelko was born in Kiev. In 1943-1946 he studied at the Kiev State Art Institute under Karp Trokhimenko. In 1948 - 1973 he was a faculty of the same institute.
Khmelko is known for his Socialist Realism paintings: 'Unification of the Ukrainian Lands' (1939-1949), 'Drink A Toast for the Great Russian People' (1947), 'Triumph of the Victorious Motherland' (1949), 'Forever with Moscow. Forever with Russian people' (1951).





Триумф народа-завоевателя
''The Triumph of the Conquering People'
Михаил Хмелько
Mikhail Khmelko

Mykhailo Ivanovych Khmelko (Ukrainian: Михайло Іванович Хмелько, 23 October 1919 - 15 January 1996) was a Ukrainian painter, People's Artist of the Ukrainian SSR, and double Stalin prize winner.
Mykhailo Khmelko was born in Kiev. In 1943-1946 he studied at the Kiev State Art Institute under Karp Trokhimenko. In 1948 - 1973 he was a faculty of the same institute.
Khmelko is known for his Socialist Realism paintings: 'Unification of the Ukrainian Lands' (1939-1949), 'Drink A Toast for the Great Russian People' (1947), 'Triumph of the Victorious Motherland' (1949), 'Forever with Moscow. Forever with Russian people' (1951).





'Выпить тост за великий русский народ'
'Drink A Toast for the Great Russian People'
Михаил Хмелько
Mikhail Khmelko

Mykhailo Ivanovych Khmelko (Ukrainian: Михайло Іванович Хмелько, 23 October 1919 - 15 January 1996) was a Ukrainian painter, People's Artist of the Ukrainian SSR, and double Stalin prize winner.
Mykhailo Khmelko was born in Kiev. In 1943-1946 he studied at the Kiev State Art Institute under Karp Trokhimenko. In 1948 - 1973 he was a faculty of the same institute.
Khmelko is known for his Socialist Realism paintings: 'Unification of the Ukrainian Lands' (1939-1949), 'Drink A Toast for the Great Russian People' (1947), 'Triumph of the Victorious Motherland' (1949), 'Forever with Moscow. Forever with Russian people' (1951).





'Маршал Г. Жуков'
'Marshal G. Zhukov'
П. Корин
P. Korin




'Борьба за мир' - 1950
'Fighting for Peace' - 1950
Jules Perahim




'Ленина на Третьем комсомола Конвенции'
 'Lenin at the Third KomSoMol Convention'
Александр Ломыкин
Aleksandr Lomykin





"Речь Ленина на III-й съезд ВЛКСМ"
'Lenin's Speech at the IIIrd Congress of the KomSoMol' 
Бориса Иогансона
Boris Ioganson

Boris Vladimirovich Ioganson (Russian: Борис Владимирович Иогансон, July 13, 1893–February 25, 1973) was a Russian painter.
Ioganson was born in Moscow. His father's Swedish ancestors russified the surname "Johanson"" into "Ioganson."
Ioganson attended the Moscow School of Art and studied under Kasatkin and Malyutin. 
He was a member of the Society of Young Artists, where he argued for a complete transference of Russian art to Constructivism. He soon abandoned this cause and took up easel painting.
In 1922, he helped found the AKhRR, and abruptly transferred into the realm of Socialist Realism. Ioganson's work was inspired by that of Repin, that is exhibiting certain features of Impressionism, and was often narrative in nature.
Possibly his best known work was "Interrogation of the Communists" a piece thoroughly representative of Socialist Realism but with piercing elements of Romanticism, in addition to an exploitation of some elements of Futurism.
A sense of theatricity is present in his paintings, probably due to his studies of theater design under Korovin.






'Солдаты революции'
 'Soldiers of the Revolution'
Vladimir Kholuyev






'Сталин с Главным Пользователи партия - при сборке' 1948
 'Stalin with Foremost Party Members - At Assembly 1948'
Александр Леонидович Королев
Aleksandr Leonidovich Korolev





'Розы для Сталина'
'Roses for Stalin'
Борис Владимирский
Boris Vladimirski

Boris Eremeevich Vladimirski, (February 27, 1878 – February 12, 1950), was a Soviet painter of the 'Socialist Realism' school.
Vladimirski was born in Kiev, Ukraine.
He began his artistic studies at age 10, later attending (1906) the Kiev Art College.
He exhibited his first painting in 1906.
As an official Soviet artist, his work was well received and widely exhibited.
His works were aimed at exemplifying the work ethic of the Soviet people; they were displayed in many homes and federal buildings.
He is also known for his paintings of prominent public officials.




'Лидер, учителем, другом'
'Leader, Teacher, Friend'
Grigori Shegel





'Иосиф Сталин'
'Joseph Stalin'
(unknown artist)




'Незабываемая встреча'
'An Unforgettable Meeting'
Василий Ефанов
Vasili Efanov





'Планирование парад'
'Planning a Parade'
Александр Королев
Aleksandr Korolev





'Приветствие первого космонавта Юрия Гагарина, по возвращении на Землю'
 'The Greeting of the First Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, on his Return to Earth' 1962
Михаил Хмелько
Mikhail Khmelko


Mykhailo Ivanovych Khmelko (Ukrainian: Михайло Іванович Хмелько, 23 October 1919 - 15 January 1996) was a Ukrainian painter, People's Artist of the Ukrainian SSR, and double Stalin prize winner.
Mykhailo Khmelko was born in Kiev. In 1943-1946 he studied at the Kiev State Art Institute under Karp Trokhimenko. In 1948 - 1973 he was a faculty of the same institute.
Khmelko is known for his Socialist Realism paintings: 'Unification of the Ukrainian Lands' (1939-1949), 'Drink A Toast for the Great Russian Peopl'e (1947), 'Triumph of the Victorious Motherland' (1949), 'Forever with Moscow. Forever with Russian people' (1951).
He is also the author of the diorama 'Medical Help' in the Bohdan Khmelnytsky army of the Kiev Museum of Medicine.





Советский плакат пространство
Soviet Space Poster
unknown artist





Будущие летчики
'Future Pilots'
Aleksandr Deineka
Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Дейне́ка

Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Deyneka (Russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Дейне́ка; May 20, 1899 – June 12, 1969) was a Soviet Russian painter, graphic artist and sculptor, regarded as one of the most important Russian modernist figurative painters of the first half of the 20th century.
He studied at Kharkov Art College (pupil of Alexander Lubimov) and at VKhUTEMAS.
He was a founding member of groups such as OST and Oktyabr, and his work gained wide exposure in major exhibitions.
His paintings and drawings (the earliest are often monochrome due to the shortage of art supplies) depict genre scenes as well as labour and often sports.
Deyneka later began painting monumental works, such as 'The Defence of Petrograd' in 1928, which remains his most iconic painting, and 'The Battle of Sevastopol in 1942', 'The Outskirts of Moscow. November 194'1 and 'The Shot-Down Ac'e.
His mosaics are a feature of Mayakovskaya metro station in Moscow.







Перерыв на обед в Донбассе
 'Lunch Break in the Donbass'
Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Дейне́ка
Aleksandr Deineka






'После битвы - 1942'
'After the battle - 1942'
Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Дейне́ка
Alexander Deineka





Мечтатели - 1956
Феллера Романа Наумовича
'Dreamers' 1956
Roman Naumovich Feller





'Купание солдатских' - 1959
 'Bathing Soldiers' - 1959
Дмитрий Жилинский
Dmitry Zhilinsky





"На море" -1964
'At The Sea' -1964
Dmitry Zhilinsky
Дмитрий Жилинский





'Утро'
'Morning'
Дмитрий Kolujni
Dmitri Kolujni


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