Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Socialist Realism Gone Wild: Stalinist Propaganda in the Soviet Empire

"Worker and Collective Farm Woman" statue by Vera Mukhina (1937).

What exactly is socialist realism? “It demands of the artist the truthful, historically concrete representation of reality in its revolutionary development. Moreover, the truthfulness and historical correctness of the artistic representation of reality must be linked with the task of ideological transformation and education of workers in the spirit of socialism.” Its power lie in its simplicity. It was to be: proletarian, significant to the workers and understandable to them; typical, presenting the everyday life of the people; realistic, in the representational sense; and partisan, supportive of the goals of the Party and the State.

Watch this video, "Soviet Kitsch," to see socialist realism go over the top in Stalin's U.S.S.R.

Socialist realism on Soviet Rouble coin from 1924.
The goal of socialist realism was to elevate the common worker, presenting his life, work, and leisure time as significant and important. Painters filled canvases with strong, cheerful workers and peasants in factories and collective farms. Popular subjects included industrial and agricultural landscapes, glorifying the achievements of the Soviet economy.
Berlin (East), Stalinallee, Block A, lithography, 1952.

A close look at East Berlin socialist realism

Richard Carter gives us a closer look at the Stalin Allee: “see how ornate the detailing is on the building[s]…All the buildings from this phase [1951-53] are clad in ceramic tiles, many of them from Meissen…” He describes scenes on the tiles of workers engaged in different activities, which is typical of socialist realism.

Detail from building on Stalin Allee, East Berlin, including representation of workers.

Planned as an antithesis to the “run down working class areas of capitalist Berlin before the war,” the Stalin Allee was a showplace for the workers to be proud of--not a bleak, run-down section of tenements that would be a source of shame. The buildings of socialist realism are often referred to as being “typical socialist wedding-cake style.” They are also “monumental” in size and can be difficult to photograph.

Massive socialist realism statue of Stalin and Soviet fighters in World War II.

Please click here to read the blog post "STALINMANIA: The Soviet Dictator in Propaganda, Art and Advertising"

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Socialist realism in public art during Stalin's reign.
This video is about statues from Stalinist Hungary and a statue park outside of Budapest. The host of the video mistakenly calls the art "social realism" instead of socialist realism. It is socialist realism. "Social realism" is different.

Warsaw's Palace of Culture and Science: socialist realism gone wild!

Flowers for Stalin by Boris Vladimirski, 1949.

Copyright (C) 2011 Eric Brothers. All Rights Reserved.

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