Russian art – The soviet realism-

Socialist Realism is the officially dominating art style for 50 years from the early 1930s. The style and content was set by the state in order to show the purpose of socialism and communism. There were some artists like Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (Кузьма Петров Водкин), Isaak Brodsky (Исак Бродски), Alexander Samokhvalov and Yuri Pimenov (Юри Пименов) who managed to create work of interest and originality, they became outstanding artists in the 1930s.

When the Avant Garde movement emerged, the artists were respectable but few years after was judged for being soulless and formalist, the communist wanted a style that could be used as propaganda for the Soviet state and that the common man could understand.

The Leningrad Union of Artists established that art was to be simple, readable to ordinary citizens and have the maximum effect on them; from it came the four basic rules for Socialist Realism.

Proletarian: relevant  and understandable to the workers.

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 purpose was to elevate the common worker, whether factory or agricultural, by presenting his life, work, and recreation as admirable. In other words, its goal was to educate the people in the goals and meaning of communism.

Writers and artists in 19th-century Russia became skilled at evading censorship,  punishment for non-compliance was a serious business that lead to execution, particularly in the ‘Terror’ period of the 1930s.

Socialist Realism had its roots in Neoclassicism and the traditions of realism in Russian literature of the 19th century described the life of simple people, but overall a product of the Soviet system.

Soviet art at this time aimed to depict the worker as he truly was, carrying his tools. In a sense, the everyday human being became the subject of the novel, the play, poetry and art. The proletariat men and women were at the centre of communist ideals; hence, their lives were a worthy subject for study.

The artist could not portray life just as he or she saw it; everything that reflected poorly on communism had to be omitted, and indeed, people who were not simply good or evil could not be used as subjects.

Art was filled with health and happiness; paintings teemed with busy industrial and agricultural scenes, and sculptures depicted workers, sentries and schoolchildren. Literature and art were filled with positive heroes that were frequently extremely tedious. Artists were well trained at the art schools, learn how to draw and paint from life models and tended to be very linear and accurate.

I recommend you to visit the Russian museum, which has an exposition of Artists from the 21St century.

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