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Avant-garde and social realism

Avant-gardism, developed in literature by Vladimir Mayakovsky and Velimir Khlebnikov, has also spread powerfully in Russian painting since the 1910s. As early as the 1910s, Kazimir Malevich (who created the style of Suprematism), Vasily Kandinsky, and Vladimir Tatlin were interested in avant-gardism in Russia. The Russian avant-garde flourished in 1914-1922. What was the avant-garde? Combining abstractionism, constructivism, cubism, Suprematism, and other postmodern movements in painting, he rejected realism, while maintaining an emphasis on the form of objects as such. Thus, Malevich’s Suprematism appeared in the 1910s as a style of writing in the form of combinations of multi-colored planes and simple geometric outlines.

However, times have changed a lot, and in the 1920s, avant-gardism, with a huge fashion for it both in Russia and abroad, ceased to be the dominant trend in both painting and literature, and the Soviet government did not like it. In the 1920s, during the reign of avant-garde and decadent art circles, the Association of artists of revolutionary Russia, or AHRR, became more and more pronounced. While Kazimir Malevich and Vasily Kandinsky continued their experiments with abstractionism and forms of objects, a whole galaxy of artists set out to develop the tendencies of Russian Peredvizhniki and display life only in realistic colors.

Trace of Peredvizhnichestvo in socialist realism
The AHRR rejected avant-gardism and focused on displaying the life of workers and peasants. Pavel Radimov, the last head Of the Association of Peredvizhniki, headed the AHRR. Recall that the movement of the late 19th century was attributed to the Peredvizhniki, when the realist artists N. GE, and Kramskoy. V. Perov went with their exhibitions in different cities of Russia. The model was taken as the embodiment of the life of the red Army, workers, peasantry, figures of the revolution and heroes of labor. And an irreconcilable struggle began, in particular, with avant-garde artists who also sided with the revolution. Pavel Radimov declared the avant-garde a harmful invention, and opened ” an Exhibition of paintings by realistic artists to help the hungry.” The emphasis was placed on the fact that non-realists do not help the hungry, but eat their bread in vain.

It is fair to say that the repressions were still far away, and many famous artists joined the AHRR in these years: K. F. Huon, B. M. Kustodiev, K. S. Petrov-Vodkin. In 1926, representatives of the avant-garde “Jack of diamonds” joined the AHRR, who had previously denied the traditions of both academism and realism of the XIX century: they were closer to post-impressionism, Fauvism and cubism.

Why such a willingness to join the ranks Of the Association of artists of revolutionary Russia? Because of its proximity to power, which was growing and by 1932, the AHRR became the basis of the unified Union of artists of the USSR. But at first, since 1923, it only received streams of artists of different colors, which flowed into its full-flowing riverbed.

The Antithesis Of Malevich, Chagall, And Kandinsky

The struggle for avant-garde art continued until 1930. For example, Suprematism. Such a” Reaper ” of Kazimir Malevich could not suit the Soviet government in any way, because by recommending this picture as a poster to red corners in various cities of the country, the authorities risked causing incomprehension and laughter among the unprepared “working masses”. Art had to be fully understood by the people, the customer of art was not the upper layers of society, but the bureaucratic “middle” of the creative intelligentsia, etc.

And for this, art had to come out of the global mainstream of the avant-garde, where Kandinsky and Malevich were located. So in 1930, Kazimir Malevich was arrested as a “German spy” (all this time he participated in foreign exhibitions, among other things). However, thanks to the intercession of the People’s Commissar of education Lunacharsky, who called Malevich “people’s Commissar OF the Russian people’s Commissar”, he was released from prison and even in 1932 received the position of head of the Experimental laboratory in the Russian Museum.

However, the very style of his work – and in Vitebsk, where in 1919-22. he taught at the People’s art school, headed by Marc Chagall, and wrote his theoretical work ” Suprematism. The world as pointlessness or eternal rest” and in the Petrograd Museum of art culture, where he received a directorship in 1923-26, and in the Kiev art Institute, where the artist taught in 1928-30. – the authorities made it clear that they were looking at him and, in case of disobedience, reprisals would follow. Not only were the authorities not interested in the avant-garde and Suprematism, they interfered with it so much that they were ready to physically deal with one of the greatest Russian artists.

On the other hand, the government beckoned: just switch to our side of social realism, move away from abstractions in painting, and all the benefits and privileges are yours. As for benefits and privileges, they were received and distributed by the Association of artists of revolutionary Russia. The Declaration of her approach to art was this: (1922): a realistic picture of events, not abstract fabrications. The Soviet authorities called this approach the most advanced, and the Great Soviet encyclopedia noted the severity of the AHRR’s struggle with ” militant formalists who are subservient to the bourgeois West.”

Apparently, this also referred to the Suprematism of Kazimir Malevich, who had great success at exhibitions in Warsaw, Berlin, and Zurich in 1927-29. What do we have now, after almost 100 years? Kandinsky and Malevich’s paintings are highly valued by international auctions. And the paintings of social realism, although pleasing to the eye and form the basis of many collections, are not so highly appreciated. But the art of social realism is clear to everyone, it celebrates universal values: work, collectivism, commitment to a common cause and a willingness to sacrifice for it. The struggle of the higher art of avant-gardism with social realism ended with the fact that social realism won in its mass.

We invite you to get acquainted with the extensive collection of avant-garde and social realist items of the “Artimex” gallery!

We can choose a painting of social realism or avant-garde for Your collection or for an exclusive gift. We work with many of the leading galleries of contemporary art and art of the Soviet school. Call us at +7495-648-44-96 or send us a message using the form below. We will help you!

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