From Pictorialism and Avant-Garde to Socialist Realism: Russian Photography 1908-1938

Nailya Alexander Gallery in New York is holding an exhibition of Soviet photographs. The show charts, in 36 prints, the stylistic development of Soviet photography from Czarist times past the First Soviet Writers’ Congress in 1934, which established Socialist Realism as the official style of the USSR. Strangely, Valentina Kulagina, a photographer cited in this New Yorker write-up as a Socialist Realist, is best known for her Suprematist poster work.

Figures like Kulagina remind us that Socialist Realism had many faces. Her “Socialist Realist” photomontage may have more in common with the work of Eisenstein and Malevich than it does with the lyric landscapes of Plastov.

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Author: Barry O'Keefe

Artist/printmaker from Richmond, Va

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