Russian Art 1917-1932

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932, The Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1, until 17thApril 2017

As I was unable to attend I asked John Kirkwood to go on my behalf – here are his thoughts:

Boris Mikailovich Kustodiev, Bolshevik, 1920 Oil on canvas, 101 x 140.5 cm State Tretyakov Gallery Photo (c) State Tretyakov Gallery

Boris Mikailovich Kustodiev, Bolshevik, 1920
Oil on canvas, 101 x 140.5 cm
State Tretyakov Gallery
Photo (c) State Tretyakov Gallery

This exhibition to commemorate the centenary of the Russian Revolution focuses on a momentous period in Russian history between 1917, the year of the October revolution, and 1932 when Stalin began his violent suppression of the Avant-Garde.

Wassily Kandinsky, Blue Crest, 1917 Oil on canvas, 133 x 104 cm State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Wassily Kandinsky, Blue Crest, 1917
Oil on canvas, 133 x 104 cm
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Divided into sections all the way from Salute The Leader, through Brave New World to Stalin’s Utopia, there is even a section on Fate of the Peasants.  Stalin came to power by promising to make the lives of the peasants better but once in power he ruined their lives by forming collective farms which destroyed the existing peasants’ way of life and livelihood.  All sounds a bit too familiar.

Isaak Brodsky, V.I.Lenin and Manifestation, 1919 Oil on canvas, 90 x 135 cm The State Historical Museum Photo (c) Provided with assistance from the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO

Isaak Brodsky, V.I.Lenin and Manifestation, 1919
Oil on canvas, 90 x 135 cm
The State Historical Museum
Photo (c) Provided with assistance from the State Museum and Exhibition Center ROSIZO

The post 1917 paintings are strongly nationalistic and utterly unsentimental – there is no room for doubting your allegiance to the State – but politicised as they are they remain strong and arresting images.  There are works by Chagall and Kandinsky and a room dedicated to over 30 paintings and architectons of Malevich seen together for the first time since 1932 in an exact reconstruction of the hang designed by the artist for the Leningrad exhibition that year.

Alexander Deineka, Textile Workers, 1927 Oil on canvas, 161.5 x 185 cm State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg (c) DACS 2016

Alexander Deineka, Textile Workers, 1927
Oil on canvas, 161.5 x 185 cm
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
(c) DACS 2016

 

Kazimir Malevich, Peasants, c. 1930 Oil on canvas, 53 x 70 cm State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

Kazimir Malevich, Peasants, c. 1930
Oil on canvas, 53 x 70 cm
State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Photo (c) 2016, State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg

 

 

 

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk

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