One very famous feature about the Soviet period is widespread political posters
. They were the simplest way of informing the population about key ideas and values of communism-socialism. Although these posters were nothing in comparison to large-scale paintings, they were nevertheless a form of art. In fact, I would argue that Pop art
and Soviet posters
have a few things in common. Both genres are political and they are created to spread a message around. Soviet posters were graphical and usually, artists who worked for journals created them. A limited palette was used and short phrases that called for action were incorporated. The themes of posters revolved around work ethics, morality, scientific achievements (such as Gagarin's launch to space), and civic duty (such as compulsory army conscription).
…and what has happened after the USSR collapsed?
The so-called “perestroika” had begun. Another wave of massive changes emerged in politics, society, and culture. Some cultural activities gravitated towards western values by calling them universal others maintained a traditional approach that was Russia-centric
. Regardless of this division in society, a very positive moment happened: artworks, books, and movies that were strictly prohibited during the USSR era were brought to the public. Museums and galleries were able to exhibit artworks that were carefully hidden in their basements since the 1930s. The government didn’t control how art was taught and what kind of art should be created. It gave artists the liberation that they needed. Styles of artworks after the collapse were versatile and one could find anything: symbolism, neopositivism, surrealism, and abstractionism
artworks (1879 – 1935) were exhibited in a solo exhibition in 1988. Malevich played his part in October Revolution
6.What or who (in your opinion) inspired Soviet artists?
Isaak Brodsky learned from Repin
for example, but not only. A lot of Soviet artists traveled to Europe to learn from masters there. Petrov-Vodkin was inspired by Matisse
, and it is apparent in his 1912 masterpiece “Bathing of the Red Horse
7. Where we can still find some pieces of Soviet art?
The State Russian Museum in St Petersburg has an entire room dedicated to Petrov-Vodkin. Icons of Russian futurism can be found in collections together with Italian Futurism, exhibitions like that often travel around the world. “The State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage Museum, and the Kremlin Museum” also have extensive collections of Socialist Realism and other genres of art.
8. Any information you would like to share with us – about Soviet art/artists, which can be of interest to those studying Russian and interested in Russian culture/history/art.
An interesting fact about the early Soviet period in relation to art is the nationalization of museums. Private collections were gathered under one roof, for example, The Tretyakov Gallery, the Hermitage, and the Russian museum united collections of private owners. A lot of private estates were turned into museums, which increased the number of museums from 87 in 1919 to 210 in 1921. A process of systematization of museums began by establishing the State Museum Fund. Artworks were systematically archived, studied, and then distributed evenly among museums in the entire country.
In 1918 Lenin published a decree “About monuments of the Republic”, which aim was to influence the population by means of culture. It gathered the best sculptors of the country to create monuments. A lot of monuments were created in a short time, but only a few of them lasted until this day as they were created using cheap materials.
9.Conclusion – a few sentences you would like to end the interview with.
It was a great pleasure to talk to you, Elena and I hope that the readers of this blog will have a chance to see Soviet art by visiting some of the museums in Moscow and St Petersburg. I would also encourage readers to explore Soviet art in their own time so that they can find an artist, an art movement, or a painting that they particularly like. Art is very subjective and the best way to explore it is by looking at it. There are a lot of online galleries that provide an audience with high-resolution pictures of original art. It can be a great start to stepping on a little Fine Arts journey.