Russian Arts During the Soviet Period

The art from 1917 to 1932

Architecture

The avant-garde architectural ideas (by Tatlin, El Lissitzky, Malewitsch, N. Gabo, among others) of the first years of the revolution were hardly ever realized. Constructivist efforts, in which foreigners (e.g. Le Corbusier) also participated, continued into the 1930s. In addition to the discussion of architectural-theoretical problems, general development plans and the solution of representative building tasks (e.g. Palace of Labor in Moscow, 1922; design of the »Leningradskaya Pravda« building, 1924), the construction of social and industrial buildings played an important role: “Izvestia” building in Moscow (1925–27; Grigori B. Barchin, * 1880, † 1969), Gorky Palace of Culture in Saint Petersburg (1925–27), Lenin mausoleum in Moscow (1924–30; A. W. Shtusev), pavilions of the Moscow Agricultural Exhibition (1923; K. S. Melnikov and others), “Pravda” building in Moscow (1929–35; Pantelejmon A. Golossow, * 1882, † 1945), »Dnjeproges« (hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper, 1927–32; brothers AA, LA, W. A. Wesnin et al.).

The constructivist-oriented Association of Modern Architects existed from 1925–32. At the same time, IA Fomin , the founder of the St. Petersburg School of Architecture, demanded a “Soviet Dorik,” d. H. Return to the classic. Questions of residential construction became important, with one architectural direction oriented towards progressive compact urbanization, agro-cities and the communal building, another, the “desurbanists”, advocated the dissolution of conurbations and favored “settlement lines”. In 1931 a momentous program for urban development and settlement was adopted (Western European architects such as E. May, H. Meyer , H. Schmidt and others were also involved).

Plastic

After the revolution and the civil war there was a veritable monument propaganda, a sculptural “program”, in the implementation of which artists of the most varied of styles participated, from the academic realistic tradition to cubo-futurism: among others. Nikolai A. Andreev; Boris D. Koroljow (Bakunin Monument, 1918, cubo-futuristic); ST Konjonkow , Iwan D. Schadr (* 1887, † 1941; cobblestones – weapon of the proletariat, 1927, academic), the Armenians SD Merkurow (Timirjasew monument, 1923, Moscow, constructivist). The plastic experiments of E. Lissitzky , LS Popowa , and A. M. Rodtschenko also fall in the early 1920s, W. E. Tatlin.

Painting and graphics

The poster and the informative, commenting and agitating, often highly satirical ROSTA windows, which made use of a succinct, naive, modern art, folk picture sheet (Luboks) and narrative, multi-figure icon-oriented imagery and poster language, formed a main area of ​​early revolutionary art. The consciously modern attitude of this agitation art led in the circle around WW Mayakovsky (group “LEF” [“Left Front of Art”], since 1923) to the idea of ​​a utilitarian depicting art. Traditions of the »Mir Iskusstwa« artists and expressive tendencies continued to have an impact on the stage design, supplemented by constructivist elements. The film poster and photography with photo montages and collages (E. Lissitzky , AM Rodchenko et al.). Mass art played a special role (until around 1923/24) in the sense of creating festivals for entire streets and squares. The important representatives of this revolutionary action art included, among others. NI Altman , M. Chagall ,S. W. Gerassimow, W. Kandinsky , B. M. Kustodiew, KS Malewitsch , KS Petrow-Wodkin , Dawid P. Schterenberg (* 1881, † 1948).

In panel painting and graphics, too, the striving for renewal increased in contrast to traditionalism and the absolutizing negation of panel painting in the area of ​​constructivist theory. N. N. Kuprejanow (* 1894, † 1933), Vladimir W. Lebedew (* 1891, † 1967), Schterenberg i.a. looked for a new representational image concept, and the Russian Cézannists further developed their »painterly realism«. In 1921, the groups “NOSCH” (“New Artists ‘Association”) and “Bytie” (“To Be”) were the first artists’ associations to advocate a new, realistic style of painting. They took up contemporary topics and sometimes made use of naive, grotesque visual forms. In 1922 the AChRR (Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia) was founded, whose members felt committed to the realistic art of the Peredwischniki (including Mitrofan B. Grekow, * 1882, † 1934; Nikolai A. Kassatkin, * 1859, † 1930; Sergei W. Maljutin, * 1859, † 1937). The group “Vier Künste”, founded in 1924, propagated a “painterly realism” based on Russian “Cézannism” (WA Faworski , W. Muchina , KS Petrow-Vodkin, MS Sarjan and others). The group “Moscow Painters” (founded in 1925, from 1927 “Society of Moscow Artists”), to which a.o. RR Falk ,Aristarch W. Lentulow (* 1882, † 1943), II Maschkow belonged. The group “OST” (“Society of Easel Painters”, founded in 1924) organized artists who advocated a realism derived from constructivism, including: AA Deineka , Pavel N. Filonov, Juri I. Pimenow (* 1903, † 1977), Schterenberg, the somewhat fantastically grotesque Alexander G. Tyschler (* 1898, † 1980). As before there were – in continuation of the proletcult discussion – debates about the creativeness of the popular masses, the “naive” understanding of realism and the choice of subject, whereby a specific genre realism and revolutionary history painting slowly came to the fore. Artists of the group “Oktjabr” (“October”) founded in 1928 turned to the topic of socialist industrialization with a modern imagery (including AA Deineka, JI Pimenow, AM Rodchenko). The artistic reaction, supported by the party, prevailed with the dissolution of all artist groups in 1932.

The art from 1933 to 1956

Architecture

Urban, residential and industrial construction continued to be in the foreground (general development plan Moscow, 1931–35). The decision in favor of Boris M. Iofan (* 1891, † 1976), Wladimir A. Schtschuko (* 1878, † 1939) and Wladimir G. Helreicher (* 1885, † probably 1967) had consequences. Elaborated project of the Moscow Palace of the Soviets (not executed). In architecture it sealed the demarcation from western “cosmopolitan modernism” and the final turn to hitherto latent historicism, i. H. Soviet neoclassicism. In 1944/45 the reconstruction of the war-torn towns and villages began. Generous urban planning solutions were sought, for which the eclecticism of neoclassical historicism remained the basis. A series of high-rise buildings was built in Moscow (including Lomonosov University, 1948–52; Lev W. Rudnew, * 1885, † 1956, among others) and the expansion of the metro stations in the pompous pre-war style continued (e.g. Taganskaya station).

Plastic

The urban development programs involved the erection of monuments that followed the academic, mostly neoclassical tradition (W. Muchina , Arbeiter und Kolkhoswäuerin, 1937).

Painting and graphics

Experimental conceptions of art receded. Socialist realism was predominant, which was linked to the traditions of the Peredwischniki and the AChRR and paved the way for an old masterly national art (including IE Grabar ; Pawel D. Korin, * 1892, † 1967; Mikhail W. Nesterow, * 1862, † 1942). Undoubtedly the new creation of the 1930s was the image of the leader, shaped by the political system and oriented towards the person of Stalin, which became a central genre for the next two decades. During the Second World War, poster art and press drawings were significantly enhanced, also through the revitalization of the tradition of ROSTA windows in TASS windows (including Kukryniksy ). Major works of painting from 1941 to 1945 were created by AA Deineka , SW Gerassimow , Korin (history pictures) and Arkadi A. Plastow (* 1893, † 1972). The end of the Second World War had raised hopes for liberalization in the field of the fine arts, and the 1st All-Union Art Exhibition in 1946 turned into a »Festival of Art«. However, again restrictive, repressively applied guidelines for art and culture followed. The artists affected included NI Altman , AA Deineka, RR Falk , WA Faworski , SW Gerassimow, PP Konchalowski , Schterenberg, Tyschler, among the sculptors, among others. Alexander T. Matwejew (* 1878, † 1960) and D. Koroljow. The doctrine of socialist realism became an absolutely binding guideline with a rigid hierarchy of genres: the portrait of deserving party, state and army leaders; the representation of political rituals; battle and history painting; the conquered revolutionary past; socialist structure and socialist person. The simple genre painting, the simple portrait, landscape painting and still life played a subordinate role. Stalin’s Death in 1953 cleared the way for gradual liberalization, so that from the mid-1950s the first attempts to overcome schematic and naturalistic ideas within socialist realism became apparent.

Russian Arts During the Soviet Period

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