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2017_0329Revolution01

My longstanding interest in Russia meant that the Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts was right up my street. The exhibition covered the period between 1917 and 1932, when Russia was settling into life post-revolution and artists were first excited by the opportunities the new world presented, then dismayed at the restrictions imposed by Stalin.

During this first fifteen years, artists enjoyed considerable freedom, and revelled in the new possibilities that the new regime offered. However, in 1932 Stalin decreed that Socialist Realism was the only acceptable style for the Soviet Union, ending this burst of creativity.

The exhibition features work by many acclaimed artists, including Kandinsky, Malevich, Chagall and Rodchenko. Interestingly it also features film clips of life in Russia, from both films and documentaries about the Soviet regime.

One of the most powerful things about the exhibition had nothing at all to do with art. In the last room, there was a video booth showing photographs of people who had been arrested and sent to gulags by Stalin and his cronies. The faces staring out of the screen are still haunting me.

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