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Socialist Realist Painting

Bown, Matthew Cullerne

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ISBN 10: 0300068441 / ISBN 13: 9780300068443
Published by Yale University Press, U.S.A., 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Socialist Realist Painting

Publisher: Yale University Press, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: FINE

Edition: FIRST.

About this title


After the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, the new government took control of the art establishment in Russia, nationalizing all art collections and laying down the principles that were to govern the creation of works of art. During the next decades Socialist Realism became the mainstream movement, encompassing the work of nearly all Soviet artists: they were required to produce art comprehensible to the masses that would inspire admiration for the dignity of the working man and his task of building communism.This book -- the first comprehensive survey of Socialist Realist painting -- traces this style from its artistic and intellectual origins in nineteenth-century Russia through its flowering in the middle of the twentieth century to its decline at the end of the Soviet period. Matthew Cullerne Bown analyzes the formal and stylistic development of the art and discusses the theory underpinning it. He describes the creative work of such key figures as Aleksandr Deineka, Arkadi Plastov, and Geli Korzhev, as well as the work of hundreds of other lesser-known painters throughout the century. He considers the work of artists in Moscow and St. Petersburg and also of those painters active in the Russian provinces and in the Soviet republics other than Russia. In its geographical and chronological sweep, its lavish illustrations, and its wealth of primary source material, the book is an indispensable study of a major art movement of the twentieth century.

From Publishers Weekly:

Soviet socialist art is one casualty of the U.S.S.R.'s collapse that might have remained unremarked without this book. While monolithic Stalinist portraits are missed by no one, Bown examines the many manifestations of socialist realism, from its 18th-century forebears, through its intellectually charged, if politically constrained, developments through Gorbachev's time. Varying rules of form and content were enforced to fortify socialist ideology and optimism, with even the unsentimental Stalin manipulating the persuasive, moralizing powers of art. Bown's theme of the political obsession with art is indeed fascinating. Abstraction, Fauvism, C?zanne, Picasso and Matisse were all censored by the ideology police until Khrushchev's thaw, an immeasurable privation for artists and public alike. Despite censorship, and the dependency of artists' livelihoods on state endorsement, many revelatory works, showing both exciting innovation and real stylistic flair, emerged within these predominantly figurative genres. The 530 plates (346 in stunning color) of this carefully considered selection include many unfamiliar works from both museums and private collections, making it a commendable and collectable oversized edition. The sole detracting feature is the author's transliterations from the Russian: for example, his insistence on using "Shagal" seems a bit supercilious, when the artist preferred to sign himself as "Chagall." His versions are no more faithful to Russian pronunciation, and are disconcerting to readers accustomed to the "norm."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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