The Springville Museum of Art in Utah has put together an exhibition of Soviet realist art. “Soviet Art in Conflict: The Artist as an Agent of Social Change,” explores the complicated artistic climate of the USSR. While the soviet government did regulate the content of artists’ work, they also provided artists with an enormous wealth of resources – including housing, studios, and materials. The power of artist unions made membership a necessity for aspiring painters. While these unions could limit individuality, they created a unique, active community for artists.
The movement’s firmest critics turn a blind eye to the many ways in which the soviet government empowered artists. Here’s an interesting excerpt from the exhibition website:
In fact, there was no precise official style dictated by the Soviet Union. The Communist Central Committee, though in total command of all cultural activities, rarely intervened when it came to the minutia of artistic approach and technique. Even when growing censorship of the 1930s alarmed artists into asking Party leaders what style they should use, the leaders declined to answer, declaring that Soviet artists were entirely free to select whatever technique they preferred, as long as it was “Socialist Realist.” Their only direction given was that artists should be motivated by printsipialnost, the act of according all things to the principles of Marxist-Leninism.
The show will be up through February first of next year.
Link to exhibition site