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The Art Of The October Revolution
November 07, 2007 17:59 GMT
All images are from ITAR-TASS or public domain sources, except for "Suprematist Composition" by Kazimir Malevich, from AFP.
A 1924 advertising poster in the futurist style by Soviet artist Aleksandr Rodchenko - The success of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 briefly opened up a period of intense artistic innovation. Young artists in all genres sought to break the molds of the past and create new expressions that were accessible to the masses and projected the optimism of the revolutionary period.
Writer Maksim Gorky posing with his granddaughter in 1928 - Early Soviet artists largely rejected the aesthetics of the prerevolutionary period, but many of them embraced the social sensibilities of late 19th-century realists, particularly Maksim Gorky. Gorky, however, was unsure about the revolution and lived in exile from 1921 until 1929. He was lionized by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, who was one of his pallbearers when he died in 1936.
A 1921 poster promoting the Red Army - Soviet artists were quick to turn their talents to creating propaganda for the new regime, developing bold and easily accessible styles that made communist rhetoric more palatable to uneducated workers and peasants.
An early Soviet poster urging workers to build railroads to defeat counterrevolutionaries - Early Soviet poster art featured dynamic graphics and forceful slogans, and covered topics from health and social issues to education and politics.
"Suprematist Composition," by Kazimir Malevich, 1920-21 - Futurism gave birth to the abstract school of suprematism, which used primary colors and simple shapes to create dynamic compositions of surprising power. The streamlining of forms to pure geometric abstraction suggested a radical break with earlier realist art, and predated the doctrine of Socialist Realism.
A photograph by Aleksandr Rodchenko, 1925 - Soviet artists also embraced new technologies and genres, particularly photography and cinema. Artist and designer Aleksandr Rodchenko developed unique techniques of photomontage that became emblematic of the period. His use of angular composition captured the dynamic energy of the age.
A still from Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 film "Battleship Potemkin" - Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein also created iconic images of the revolutionary period in his films "Strike!" (1925), "October" (1927), and "Battleship Potemkin" (1925), among others. Eisenstein developed the principles of photographic montage to achieve powerful emotional effects through the collision of images.
Poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, 1925 - Vladimir Mayakovsky was one of the great formulators and influences of the Soviet revolutionary aesthetic. In addition to poetry and plays, he created posters, advertising jingles, and instructional booklets. In his later years, he devoted himself increasingly to political work. He committed suicide in 1930.
Clothing designs by Soviet designer and artist Vladimir Tatlin, 1924 - Early Soviet artists strove to make their art as useful and widely accessible as possible. As a result, they innovated in diverse areas from typography and textiles to dishware and household goods. They sought to create energetic, visually exciting designs that were affordable and amenable to mass production.
A model of a design by Vladimir Tatlin for a tower to celebrate the Third International, 1920 - Early Soviet artists also attempted to embody the optimism and energy of the revolutionary period in architecture. One of the greatest examples was Vladimir Tatlin's design for the Monument to the Third International, which was never built. Tatlin's design used geometric forms and a dynamic upward spiral to capture a spirit of utopian progress.
Maksim Gorky addresses a congress of Soviet writers in Moscow in 1935 - But the energy and initiative of early Soviet artists became increasingly unsustainable as the state solidified control over all aspects of life. In 1932, the Soviet Union of Writers was formed, followed by similar state bodies for other creative artists. A pedantic doctrine of socialist realism was proclaimed the official aesthetic and the spontaneous enthusiasm of early Soviet art was suffocated.
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