From Feb 9th through Jun 4th, 2007On view at the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach is the exhibition Art in Revolution: From Avant-Garde to Socialist Realism in Stalin’s Russia, 1917-1945. Specially curated by Wolfsonian-FIU librarians Nicolae Harsanyi and Francis Luca for The World of Shostakovich: An In-Context Festival, the show is now installed at the Rare Book and Special Collections Library of the museum. The works on the exhibition range from the Russian Avant-Garde period to the late Soviet Socialist Realism. Immediately after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, artists were released from the burden of the Tsarist cultural heritage and called upon to fulfill the needs of the new Soviet Republic. As in every true Avant-Garde movement, the Russian artists of this period were infused by the spirit of the social changes happening at that time and responded with an art that was representative of such historical period. Contsructivism. Constructivist artists believed in art as a universal language that would be inherent to the daily life of the working class. This period is commonly known for the experimentation with geometric and colorful abstract shapes that could be easily reproduced and assimilated by the masses. Without knowing it, those artists were giving the turn of the screw to the obsolete artistic traditions inherited from the former Tsarist monarchy. Within two years, however, other Soviet artists were calling for another “new art” that would render “a true picture” of the “everyday life of the Red Army, of workers and peasants, of revolutionary figures and heroes of labor” rather than “abstract fabrications” that would “discredit the true socialist spirit of the Revolution.” By the early 1930s, Joseph Stalin unleashed a repression wave against the experimentalists by stigmatizing them as enemies of true artistic and social progress. Soon after, he dictated Socialist Realism as the only appropriate art for the Soviet state, suffocating by this means one of the original Avant-Garde movement of the Twentieth Century. Art in Revolution: From Avant-Garde to Socialist Realism… will be on view until June 4th, 2007, offering a wonderful opportunity to explore the complex issues and often tragic evolution of Soviet Art.
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