Socialist realism

Socialist realism

Overview
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

 which was developed in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Although related, it should not be confused with social realism
Social realism
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic...

, a type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern. Unlike social realism, socialist realism often glorifies the roles of the poor.

In conjunction with the Socialist Classical
Stalinist architecture
Stalinist architecture , also referred to as Stalinist Gothic, or Socialist Classicism, is a term given to architecture of the Soviet Union between 1933, when Boris Iofan's draft for Palace of the Soviets was officially approved, and 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev condemned "excesses" of the past...

 style of architecture, Socialist realism was the officially approved type of art in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for nearly sixty years.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Socialist realism'
Start a new discussion about 'Socialist realism'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

 which was developed in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically
Teleology
A teleology is any philosophical account which holds that final causes exist in nature, meaning that design and purpose analogous to that found in human actions are inherent also in the rest of nature. The word comes from the Greek τέλος, telos; root: τελε-, "end, purpose...

-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism. Although related, it should not be confused with social realism
Social realism
Social Realism, also known as Socio-Realism, is an artistic movement, expressed in the visual and other realist arts, which depicts social and racial injustice, economic hardship, through unvarnished pictures of life's struggles; often depicting working class activities as heroic...

, a type of art that realistically depicts subjects of social concern. Unlike social realism, socialist realism often glorifies the roles of the poor.

Soviet Union


In conjunction with the Socialist Classical
Stalinist architecture
Stalinist architecture , also referred to as Stalinist Gothic, or Socialist Classicism, is a term given to architecture of the Soviet Union between 1933, when Boris Iofan's draft for Palace of the Soviets was officially approved, and 1955, when Nikita Khrushchev condemned "excesses" of the past...

 style of architecture, Socialist realism was the officially approved type of art in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 for nearly sixty years. All material goods and means of production belonged to the community as a whole; this included means of producing art, which were also seen as powerful propaganda tools. During the October Revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

 of 1917, the Bolshevik
Bolshevik
The Bolsheviks, originally also Bolshevists , derived from bol'shinstvo, "majority") were a faction of the Marxist Russian Social Democratic Labour Party which split apart from the Menshevik faction at the Second Party Congress in 1903....

s established an institution called Proletkult
Proletkult
Proletkult was movement which arose in the Russian revolution and was active from 1917 to 1925 which aspired to provide the foundations for what was intended to be a truly proletarian art devoid of bourgeois influence.The name is a portmanteau of "proletarskaya kultura" , which are better-known as...

 (the Proletarian Cultural and Enlightenment Organizations) which sought to put all arts into the service of the dictatorship of the proletariat
Dictatorship of the proletariat
In Marxist socio-political thought, the dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, have control of political power. The term, coined by Joseph Weydemeyer, was adopted by the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the...

.

In the early years of the Soviet Union, Russian and Soviet artists embraced a wide variety of art forms under the auspices of Proletkult. Revolutionary politics and radical non-traditional art forms were seen as complementary. In art, Constructivism
Constructivism (art)
Constructivism was an artistic and architectural philosophy that originated in Russia beginning in 1919, which was a rejection of the idea of autonomous art. The movement was in favour of art as a practice for social purposes. Constructivism had a great effect on modern art movements of the 20th...

 flourished. In poetry, the nontraditional and the avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 were often praised.

This, however, was rejected by some members of the Communist party, who did not appreciate modern styles such as Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

 and Cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

, since these movements existed before the revolution and were thus associated with "decadent bourgeois art." Socialist realism was, to some extent, a reaction against the adoption of these "decadent" styles. It was thought that the non-representative forms of art were not understood by the proletariat and could therefore not be used by the state for propaganda. Alexander Bogdanov
Alexander Bogdanov
Alexander Aleksandrovich Bogdanov –7 April 1928, Moscow) was a Russian physician, philosopher, science fiction writer, and revolutionary of Belarusian ethnicity....

 argued that the radical reformation of society to Communist principles meant little if any bouregeois art would prove useful; some of his more radical followers advocated the destruction of libraries and museums. Lenin rejected this philosophy, and deplored the rejection of beautiful because it was old, and explicitly described art as needing to call on its heritage: "Proletarian culture must be the logical development of the store of knowledge mankind has accumulated under the yoke of capitalist, landowner, and bureaucratic society." Modern art styles appeared to refuse to draw upon this heritage, thus clashing with the long realist tradition in Russia and rendering the art scene complex. Even in Lenin's time, a cultural bureaucracy began to restrain art to fit propaganda purposes
Propaganda in the Soviet Union
Communist propaganda in the Soviet Union was extensively based on the Marxism-Leninism ideology to promote the Communist Party line. In societies with pervasive censorship, the propaganda was omnipresent and very efficient...

.

Socialist realism became state policy in 1932 when Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 leader Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 promulgated the decree "On the Reconstruction of Literary and Art Organizations". Accordingly, the Moscow and Leningrad Union of Artists was established in 1932, which brought the history of post-revolutionary art to a close. The epoch of Soviet art began. In Leningrad well-known artist and art teacher Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin, was an important Russian and Soviet painter and writer.-Early years:...

 was elected the first president of the Union of Artists. This choice laid down the foundation of the lasting development of the Leningrad Union of Artists and Academy of Arts as a unified creative body. In 1931-2, the early emphasis on the "little man" and the anonymous laboring masses gave way to the "hero of labor", derived from the people but set apart by the scale of his deeds. Writers were explicitly enjoined to develop "heroization." This reflected a call for romantic art, which reflected the ideal rather than the realistic. Furthermore, it should show one clear and unambiguous meaning.

The first exhibition organized by the Leningrad Union of Artists took place in 1935. Its participants – Piotr Buchkin
Piotr Buchkin
Piotr Dmitrievich Buchkin – Soviet, Russian painter, watercolorist, graphic artist, illustrator, and art teacher, Honored Arts Worker of the RSFSR, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad branch of Union of Artists of Russian Federation, regarded as one of the founder and ...

, Rudolf Frentz
Rudolf Frentz
Rudolf Rudolfovich Frentz - Soviet, Russian painter, watercolorist, graphic artist, illustrator, and art teacher, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of the founder and representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his...

, Alexander Samokhvalov
Alexander Nikolayevich Samokhvalov
Alexander Nikolayevich Samokhvalov - Soviet Russian painter, watercolorists, graphic artist, illustrator, and art teacher, Honored Arts Worker of the RSFSR, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad branch of Union of Artists of Russian Federation, regarded as one of the founder and ...

, Isaak Brodsky
Isaak Brodsky
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky , was a Soviet painter whose work provided a blueprint for the art movement of socialist realism. He is known for his iconic portrayals of Lenin and idealized, carefully crafted paintings dedicated to the events of the Russian Civil War and Bolshevik Revolution.Brodsky was...

, Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin, was an important Russian and Soviet painter and writer.-Early years:...

, Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Malevich
Kazimir Severinovich Malevich was a Russian painter and art theoretician, born of ethnic Polish parents. He was a pioneer of geometric abstract art and the originator of the Avant-garde Suprematist movement.-Early life:...

, Nikolai Dormidontov, Mikhail Avilov among them – became the founding fathers of the Leningrad school while their works formed one of its richest layers and the basis of the largest museum collections of Soviet painting of the 1930-1950s.

In 1932, the Leningrad Institute of Proletarian Visual Arts was transformed into the Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (since 1944 named Ilya Repin). The 15-year period of constant reformation of the country’s largest art institute came to an end. Thus, basic elements of the Leningrad school
Leningrad School of Painting
The Leningrad School of Painting - a group of Soviet painters, established in Leningrad in 1930–1950 years around reformed Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and unified by the Leningrad Union of Soviet Artists .- History :...

 – namely, a higher art education establishment of a new type and a unified professional union of Leningrad artists, were created by the end of 1932. In 1934 Isaak Brodsky
Isaak Brodsky
Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky , was a Soviet painter whose work provided a blueprint for the art movement of socialist realism. He is known for his iconic portrayals of Lenin and idealized, carefully crafted paintings dedicated to the events of the Russian Civil War and Bolshevik Revolution.Brodsky was...

, a disciple of Ilya Repin was appointed director of the National Academy of Arts and the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture. Brodsky invited distinguished painters and pedagogues to teach at the Academy, namely Konstantin Yuon
Konstantin Yuon
Konstantin Fyodorovich Yuon or Juon was a noted Russian painter and theatre designer associated with the Mir Iskusstva. Later, he co-founded the Union of Russian Artists and the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia.-Biography:...

, Pavel Naumov, Boris Ioganson
Boris Ioganson
Boris Vladimirovich Ioganson was a Russian painter.Ioganson was born in Moscow. His father's Swedish ancestors russified the surname "Johanson"" into "Ioganson." Ioganson attended the Moscow School of Art and studied under Kasatkin and Malyutin. He was a member of the Society of Young Artists,...

, Semion Abugov, Pavel Shillingovsky, Dmitry Kardovsky
Dmitry Kardovsky
Dmitry Kardovsky was a Russian artist, illustrator and stage designer.-Biography:He was born near Pereslavl-Zalessky in the Yaroslavl province. After studying law at Moscow University, he then studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St Petersburg from 1892, under Pavel Chistyakov and Ilya Repin...

, Alexander Osmerkin
Alexander Osmerkin
Alexander Alexandrovich Osmerkin was a Russian painter, graphic artist, stage designer, and art teacher. He was a member of the Knave of Diamonds avant-garde group, AKhRR, and Society of Moscow Artists groups...

, Nikolai Radlov, Yevgeny Lansere, Alexander Lubimov, Rudolf Frentz
Rudolf Frentz
Rudolf Rudolfovich Frentz - Soviet, Russian painter, watercolorist, graphic artist, illustrator, and art teacher, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of the founder and representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his...

, Nikolai Petrov, Victor Sinaisky, Vasily Shukhaev, Dmitry Kiplik, Nikolai Punin, Vasily Meshkov, Mikhail Bernshtein, Efim Cheptsov, Ivan Bilibin
Ivan Bilibin
Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin was a 20th-century illustrator and stage designer who took part in the Mir iskusstva and contributed to the Ballets Russes. Throughout his career, he was inspired by Slavic folklore....

, Matvey Manizer
Matvey Manizer
Matvey Genrikhovich Manizer was a prominent Russian sculptor. Manizer created a number of works that became classics of socialist realism.- Life :...

, Piotr Buchkin
Piotr Buchkin
Piotr Dmitrievich Buchkin – Soviet, Russian painter, watercolorist, graphic artist, illustrator, and art teacher, Honored Arts Worker of the RSFSR, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad branch of Union of Artists of Russian Federation, regarded as one of the founder and ...

, Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, Alexander Karev, Leonid Ovsyannikov, Sergei Priselkov, Ivan Stepashkin, Konstantin Rudakov and others.
Art exhibitions of 1935–1940 disprove the claims that artistic life of the period was suppressed by the ideology and artists submitted entirely to what was then called ‘social order’. A great number of landscapes, portraits
Portrait painting
Portrait painting is a genre in painting, where the intent is to depict the visual appearance of the subject. Beside human beings, animals, pets and even inanimate objects can be chosen as the subject for a portrait...

, genre painting
Genre painting
Genre works, also called genre scenes or genre views, are pictorial representations in any of various media that represent scenes or events from everyday life, such as markets, domestic settings, interiors, parties, inn scenes, and street scenes. Such representations may be realistic, imagined, or...

s exhibited at the time pursued purely technical purposes and were thus ostensibly free from any ideology. Genre painting was also approached in a similar way.

In the post-war period between the mid-fifties and sixties, the Leningrad school of painting was approaching its vertex. New generations of artists who had graduated from the Academy (Repin Institute of Arts) in the 1930s–50s were in their prime. They were quick to present their art, they strived for experiments and were eager to appropriate a lot and to learn even more. Their time and contemporaries, with all its images, ideas and dispositions found it full expression in portraits by Lev Russov
Lev Russov
Lev Alexandrovich Russov was a Soviet Russian painter, graphic artist, and sculptor, living and working in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad branch of Union of Artists of Russian Federation, regarded as one of the leading representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his...

, Victor Oreshnikov, Boris Korneev
Boris Korneev
Boris Vasilievich Korneev – Soviet Russian painter and art teacher, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, professor of the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after Ilya Repin, lived and worked in Leningrad, regarded as one of the major representatives of the...

, Leonid Steele
Leonid Steele
Leonid Mikhailovich Steele is one of the leading artists of the Russian Realist School - the Soviet period in Russian Art known as “socialist realism” or “socrealizm.” A member of the USSR Union of Artists since 1958, he is known for his large multi-figure works, as well as figure, genre and...

, Oleg Lomakin
Oleg Lomakin
Oleg Leonidovich Lomakin was a Russian Soviet realist painter, Honored Artist of the RSFSR, who lived and worked in Saint Petersburg . He was regarded as one of the major representatives of the Leningrad school of painting,- Biography :...

, Semion Rotnitsky, Vladimir Gorb
Vladimir Gorb
Vladimir Alexandrovich Gorb - Soviet Russian painter, graphic artist, and art teacher, professor of the Repin Institute of Arts, Honored Art Worker of Russian Federation, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad branch of Union of Artists of Russian Federation, regarded as one of the...

, Samuil Nevelshtein
Samuil Nevelshtein
Samuil Grigorievich Nevelshtein - Soviet, Russian painter, watercolorist, graphic artist, and art teacher, lived and worked in Leningrad, regarded as one of the representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most known for his portraits of children and youth.- Biography :Samuil Grigorievich...

, Engels Kozlov
Engels Kozlov
Engels Vasilievich Kozlov – Soviet Russian painter, People's Artist of Russia, lived and worked in Leningrad – Saint Petersburg, regarded as one of representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his genre and portrait painting....

, in landscapes by Nikolai Timkov
Nikolai Timkov
Nikolai Efimovich Timkov - Soviet Russian painter, Honored Artist of Russian Federation, a member of the Saint Petersburg Union of Artists , lived and worked in Leningrad, regarded as one of the leading representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, worldwide known for his landscape...

, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Sergei Osipov
Sergei Ivanovich Osipov
Sergei Ivanovich Osipov was a Soviet Russian painter, graphic artist, and art teacher, lived and worked in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad branch of Union of Artists of Russian Federation, regarded as one of the leading representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his...

, Alexander Semionov, Arseny Semionov
Arseny Semionov
Arseny Nikiforovich Semionov - Soviet Russian painter and art teacher, lived and worked in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of the representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his landscape and cityscape paintings.- Biography :Arseny...

, Vasily Golubev
Vasily Golubev
Vasily Vasilievich Golubev - Soviet, Russian painter, lived and worked in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of representatives of the Leningrad school of painting.- Biography :...

, Nikolai Galakhov
Nikolai Galakhov
Nikolai Nikolaevich Galakhov - Soviet, Russian painter, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, living and working in Saint Petersburg, regarded as one of the representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his landscape paintings....

, Dmitry Maevsky
Dmitry Maevsky
Dmitry Ivanovich Maevsky – Soviet Russian painter, lived and worked in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his lyrical landscapes.- Biography :...

, in genre paintings by Nikolai Pozdneev
Nikolai Pozdneev
Nikolai Matveevich Pozdneev - Soviet Russian painter, living and working in Leningrad, a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of the leading representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his genre and still life paintings.-Biography:Pozdneev Nikolai...

, Yuri Neprintsev
Yuri Neprintsev
Yuri Mikhailovich Neprintsev |Georgia]] - October 20, 1996, Saint Petersburg, Russia) - Soviet, Russian painter, graphic artist, art teacher, professor of the Repin Institute of Arts, People's Artist of USSR, a member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, lived and worked in Leningrad, regarded by...

, Yevsey Moiseenko, Andrey Milnikov, Nina Veselova
Nina Veselova
Nina Leonidovna Veselova was a Russian Soviet realist painter and graphic artist, Doctor of art-criticism , who lived and worked in Leningrad, She was a member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of the brightest representatives of the Leningrad school of painting.- Biography :Nina...

, Mikhail Trufanov
Mikhail Trufanov
Mikhail Pavlovich Trufanov - Soviet, Russian painter, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, lived and worked in Leningrad, regarded as one of the brightest representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his portrait paintings.....

, Yuri Tulin
Yuri Tulin
Yuri Nilovich Tulin - Soviet, Russian painter, Honored Artist of the Russian Federation, lived and worked in Leningrad, regarded as one of the brightest representatives of the Leningrad school of painting, most famous for his portraits and historical paintings.- Biography :Yuri Nilovich Tulin was...

, Mikhail Natarevich
Mikhail Natarevich
Mikhail Davidovich Natarevich - Soviet, Russian painter, lived and worked in Leningrad, member of the Leningrad Union of Artists, regarded as one of the brightest representatives of the Leningrad school of painting.- Biography :...

, and others.

In 1957, the first all-Russian Congress of Soviet artists took place in Moscow. In 1960, the all-Russian Union of Artists was organized. Accordingly, these events influenced the art life in Moscow, Leningrad and the provinces. The scope of experimentation was broadened; in particular, this concerned the form and painterly and plastic language. Images of youths and students, rapidly changing villages and cities, virgin lands brought under cultivation, grandiose construction plans being realized in Siberia and the Volga region, great achievements of Soviet science and technology became the chief topics of the new painting. Heroes of the time – young scientists, workers, civil engineers, physicians – were made the most popular heroes of paintings.
In this period, life provided artists with plenty of thrilling topics, positive figures and images. Legacy of many great artists and art movements became available for study and public discussion again. This greatly broadened artists’ understanding of the realist method and widened its possibilities. It was the repeated renewal of the very conception of realism
Realism (visual arts)
Realism in the visual arts is a style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see. The term is used in different senses in art history; it may mean the same as illusionism, the representation of subjects with visual mimesis or verisimilitude, or may mean an emphasis on the actuality of...

 that made this style dominate Russian art throughout its history. Realist tradition gave rise to many trends of contemporary painting
Contemporary art
Contemporary art can be defined variously as art produced at this present point in time or art produced since World War II. The definition of the word contemporary would support the first view, but museums of contemporary art commonly define their collections as consisting of art produced...

, including painting from nature, "severe style" painting and decorative art. However, during this period impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

, postimpressionism, cubism
Cubism
Cubism was a 20th century avant-garde art movement, pioneered by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, that revolutionized European painting and sculpture, and inspired related movements in music, literature and architecture...

 and expressionism
Expressionism
Expressionism was a modernist movement, initially in poetry and painting, originating in Germany at the beginning of the 20th century. Its typical trait is to present the world solely from a subjective perspective, distorting it radically for emotional effect in order to evoke moods or ideas...

 also had their fervent adherents and interpreters.

The Union of Soviet Writers was founded to control the output of authors, and the new policy was rubber-stamped at the Congress of Socialist Writers in 1934. It was enforced ruthlessly in all spheres of artistic endeavour. Artists who strayed from the official line were severely punished. Form and content were often limited, with erotic, religious, abstract, surrealist and expressionist art being forbidden. Formal experiments, including internal dialogue, stream of consciousness, nonsense, free-form association and cut-up were also disallowed. This was either because they were "decadent", unintelligible to the proletariat or counter-revolutionary.
In response to the 1934 Congress in Russia, the most important American writers of the left gathered in the First American Writers Congress of 26, 27 April 1935 in Chicago, at the meetings which were supported by Stalin. Waldo David Frank was its first president See the League of American Writers
League of American Writers
The League of American Writers was an association of American novelists, playwrights, poets, journalists, and literary critics launched by the Communist Party USA in 1935...

 which was backed by the Communist Party USA. A number of the novelists balked at the control, and the League broke up at the invasion of the Soviet Union by German forces.

The restrictions were relaxed somewhat after Stalin's death in 1953, but the state still kept a tight rein on personal artistic expression. This caused many artists to choose to go into exile, for example the Odessa Group
Odessa Group
The Odessa Group of exiled and dissident artists take their name from the Ukrainian city of Odessa.They are:*Valentin Altanietz *Andrey Antoniuk*Alexander Anufriev*Valery Basanietz*Valentin Khrushch*Michail Kowalski*Ruslan Makoev...

 from the city of that name. Independent-minded artists that remained continued to feel the hostility of the state. In 1974, for instance, a show of unofficial art in a field near Moscow was broken up, and the artworks destroyed with a water cannon and bulldozers (see Bulldozer Exhibition
Bulldozer Exhibition
Bulldozer Exhibition was an unofficial art exhibition on a vacant lot in the Belyayevo urban forest by Moscow avant-garde artists on September 15, 1974...

). Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

's policy of glasnost
Glasnost
Glasnost was the policy of maximal publicity, openness, and transparency in the activities of all government institutions in the Soviet Union, together with freedom of information, introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev in the second half of the 1980s...

 and perestroika
Perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

 facilitated an explosion of interest in alternative art styles in the late 1980s, but socialist realism remained in limited force as the official state art style until as late as 1991. It was not until after the fall of the Soviet Union that artists were finally freed from state censorship.

Other socialist states


After the Russian Revolution, socialist realism became an international literary movement. Socialist trends in literature were established in the 1920s in Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, and Poland. Writers who helped develop socialist realism in the West included Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon , was a French poet, novelist and editor, a long-time member of the Communist Party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.- Early life :...

, Johannes Becher, Jaroslav Hašek
Jaroslav Hašek
Jaroslav Hašek was a Czech humorist, satirist, writer and socialist anarchist best known for his novel The Good Soldier Švejk, an unfinished collection of farcical incidents about a soldier in World War I and a satire on the ineptitude of authority figures, which has been translated into sixty...

, and Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda
Pablo Neruda was the pen name and, later, legal name of the Chilean poet, diplomat and politician Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto. He chose his pen name after Czech poet Jan Neruda....

.

The doctrine of socialist realism in other People's Republic
People's Republic
People's Republic is a title that has often been used by Marxist-Leninist governments to describe their state. The motivation for using this term lies in the claim that Marxist-Leninists govern in accordance with the interests of the vast majority of the people, and, as such, a Marxist-Leninist...

s, was legally enforced from 1949 to 1956. It involved all domains of visual and literary arts, though its most spectacular achievements were made in the field of architecture, considered a key weapon in the creation of a new social order
Social order
Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. It refers to a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving....

, intended to help spread the communist doctrine by influencing citizens' consciousness as well as their outlook on life. During this massive undertaking, a crucial role fell to architects perceived not as merely engineers creating streets and edifices, but rather as "Engineers of the human soul
Engineers of the human soul
Engineers of the human soul was a term applied to writers and other cultural workers by Joseph Stalin.The phrase was apparently coined by Yury Olesha; Viktor Shklovsky said that Olesha used it in a meeting with Stalin at the home of Maxim Gorky, and it was subsequently used by Stalin, who said...

". The general theme, extending beyond simple aesthetics into an urban design, was meant to express grandiose ideas and arouse feelings of stability, persistence and political power.

Today, arguably the only countries still focused on these aesthetic principles are North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

, Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, and to some extent Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

. The People's Republic of China occasionally reverts to socialist realism for specific purposes, such as idealised propaganda posters to promote the Chinese space program
Chinese space program
The space program of the People's Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration . Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950s, when the People's Republic began a rudimentary ballistic missile program in response to perceived American threats...

. Socialist realism had little mainstream impact in the non-Communist world, where it was widely seen as a totalitarian means of imposing state control on artists.

The former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

 was an important exception among the communist countries, because after the Tito-Stalin split
Tito-Stalin Split
The Tito–Stalin Split was a conflict between the leaders of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which resulted in Yugoslavia's expulsion from the Communist Information Bureau in 1948...

 in 1948, it abandoned socialist realism along with other elements previously imported from the Soviet system and allowed greater artistic freedom. Miroslav Krleža
Miroslav Krleža
Miroslav Krleža was a leading Croatian and Yugoslav writer and the dominant figure in cultural life of both Yugoslav states, the Kingdom and the Republic . He has often been proclaimed the greatest Croatian writer of the 20th century.-Biography:Miroslav Krleža was born in Zagreb, modern-day...

, one of the leading Yugoslav intellectuals, held a speech at the Third Congress of the Writers Alliance of Yugoslavia in Ljubljana
Ljubljana
Ljubljana is the capital of Slovenia and its largest city. It is the centre of the City Municipality of Ljubljana. It is located in the centre of the country in the Ljubljana Basin, and is a mid-sized city of some 270,000 inhabitants...

 in 1952, which is considered a turning point in the Yugoslav denouncement of dogmatic socialist realism.

Due to its controversial nature, socialist realism can be quite taboo in Western nations. For example, in 2007, the Chinese sculptor, Lei Yixin
Lei Yixin
Lei Yixin is a prominent Chinese sculptor.- Childhood and Education :Lei was born to a family of scholars in Changsha, Hunan, China....

 was selected as the lead sculptor for the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is located in West Potomac Park in Washington, D.C., southwest of the National Mall . The memorial is America's 395th national park...

. But because Mr. Lei has worked on various socialist realism pieces back in China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 (such as carving statues celebrating Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

), his selection was heavily criticized by many in the US, such as by the Chinese dissident
Dissident
A dissident, broadly defined, is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine, policy, or institution. When dissidents unite for a common cause they often effect a dissident movement....

 Harry Wu
Harry Wu
Harry Wu is an activist for human rights in the People's Republic of China. Now a resident and citizen of the United States, Wu spent 19 years in Chinese labor camps. In 1992, he founded the Laogai Research Foundation. In 1996 the Columbia Human Rights Law Review awarded Wu its second Award for...

. Furthermore, in 2008, the United States Commission of Fine Arts
United States Commission of Fine Arts
The United States Commission of Fine Arts , established in 1910 by an act of Congress, is an advisory agency of the Federal government.The CFA is mandated to review and provide advice on "matters of design and aesthetics", involving federal projects and planning in Washington, D.C...

 rejected Lei's design for the King Memorial Sculpture. In a letter dated 28 April, the commission wrote that Yixin's presentation was an inappropriate expression of Dr. King and that Yixin's model recalled the genre of political sculpture that has recently been destroyed in other countries, hinting at the removal of many socialist realism statues during the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

.

Roots


The initial tendencies toward socialist realism date from the mid-19th century. They include revolutionary literature in Great Britain (the poetry of the Chartist movement), Germany (Herwegh, Freiligrath, and G. Weerth), and France (the literature of the Paris Commune and Pottier's "Internationale.") Socialist realism emerged as a literary method in the early 20th century in Russia, especially in the works of Gorky. It was also apparent in the works of writers like Kotsiubinsky, Rainis, Akopian, and Edvoshvili. Following Gorky, writers in several countries combined the realistic depiction of life with the expression of a socialist world view. They included Barbusse, Andersen Nexø, and John Reed.

The political aspect of socialist realism was, in some respects, a continuation of pre-Soviet state policy. Censorship
Censorship
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 and attempts to control the content of art did not begin with the Soviets, but were a long-running feature of Russian life. The Tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

ist government also appreciated the potentially disruptive effect of art and required all books to be cleared by the censor. Writers and artists in 19th century Imperial Russia became quite skilled at evading censorship by making their points without spelling it out in so many words. However, Soviet censors were not easily evaded.

Socialist realism had its roots in neoclassicism
Neoclassicism
Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome...

 and the traditions of realism in Russian literature
Russian literature
Russian literature refers to the literature of Russia or its émigrés, and to the Russian-language literature of several independent nations once a part of what was historically Russia or the Soviet Union...

 of the 19th century that described the life of simple people. It was exemplified by the aesthetic philosophy of Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist.-Early years:...

. The work of the Peredvizhniki
Peredvizhniki
Peredvizhniki , often called The Wanderers or The Itinerants in English, were a group of Russian realist artists who in protest at academic restrictions formed an artists' cooperative; it evolved into the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions in 1870.- History :In 1863 a group of fourteen students...

 ("Wanderers," a Russian realist
Realism (arts)
Realism in the visual arts and literature refers to the general attempt to depict subjects "in accordance with secular, empirical rules", as they are considered to exist in third person objective reality, without embellishment or interpretation...

 movement of the late 19th / early 20th centuries), Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David
Jacques-Louis David was an influential French painter in the Neoclassical style, considered to be the preeminent painter of the era...

 and Ilya Yefimovich Repin
Ilya Yefimovich Repin
Ilya Yefimovich Repin |realist]]ic works often expressed great psychological depth and exposed the tensions within the existing social order. Beginning in the late 1920s, detailed works on him were published in the Soviet Union, where a Repin cult developed about a decade later...

 were notable influences.

Socialist Realism was a product of the Soviet system. Whereas in market societies professional artists earned their living selling to, or being commissioned by rich individuals or the Church, in Soviet society not only was the market suppressed, there were few if any individuals able to patronise the arts and only one institution – the State itself. Hence artists became state employees. As such the State set the parameters for what it employed them to do.
What was expected of the artist was that he/she be formally qualified and to reach a standard of competence. However, whilst this rewarded basic competency, it did not provide an incentive to excel, resulting in a stultification similar to that in other spheres of Soviet society.

The State, after the Congress of 1934, laid down four rules for what became known as "Socialist Realism":


Even so, many of the art works glorifying Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 and other leaders are hardly in keeping with these ideals and the charge that art be understandable to the whole people negated the Western notion of the avant garde (despite the Bolsheviks casting themselves as a political "vanguard") and discouraged experimental approaches. The realism achieved was often technically very good and similar to many Western works intended as magazine illustration or bookjackets, rather than High Art. The partisan quality tends to attract the most criticism, in that it often predominated to the exclusion of the other tenets, so that paintings of peasants feasting after bumper harvests was neither real nor typical of the lot of many of those depicted, especially in the Ukrainian Famine.

Characteristics



Socialist realism held that successful art depicts and glorifies the proletariat's struggle toward socialist progress. The Statute of the Union of Soviet Writers in 1934 stated that socialist realism
Its purpose was to elevate the common worker, whether factory or agricultural, by presenting his life, work, and recreation as admirable. In other words, its goal was to educate the people in the goals and meaning of Communism. The ultimate aim was to create what Lenin called "an entirely new type of human being": New Soviet Man
New Soviet man
The New Soviet man or New Soviet person , as postulated by the ideologists of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was an archetype of a person with certain qualities that were said to be emerging as dominant among all citizens of the Soviet Union, irrespective of the country's cultural,...

. Stalin described the practitioners of socialist realism as "engineers of souls".

The "realism" part is important. Soviet art at this time aimed to depict the worker as he truly was, carrying his tools. In a sense, the movement mirrors the course of American and Western art, where the everyday human being became the subject of the novel, the play, poetry, and art. The proletariat was at the center of communist ideals; hence, his life was a worthy subject for study. This was an important shift away from the aristocratic art produced under the Russian tsar
Tsar
Tsar is a title used to designate certain European Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism...

s of previous centuries, but had much in common with the late-19th century fashion for depicting the social life of the common people. In practice, this entailed realistic depictions of objects, so that ordinary people could understand; a theater could not use a box to represent a chair. The artist could not, however, portray life just as he saw it; because everything that reflected poorly on Communism had to be omitted, and indeed, people who were not simply good or evil could not be used as characters. All characters were poured into a heroic mold, sometimes termed heroic realism
Heroic realism
Heroic realism is a term which has sometimes been used to describe art used as propaganda. Examples include the Socialist realism style associated with Communist regimes, and the very similar art style associated with Fascism...

. This reflected a call for heroic and romantic art, which reflected the ideal rather than the realistic. Art was filled with health and happiness; paintings teemed with busy industrial and agricultural scenes, and sculptures depicted workers, sentries, and schoolchildren.

Compared to the eclectic variety of 20th century Western art, socialist realism often resulted in a fairly bland and predictable range of artistic products (indeed, Western critics wryly described the principles of socialist realism as "girl meets tractor"). Painters would depict happy, muscular peasants and workers in factories and collective farms; during the Stalin period, they also produced numerous heroic portraits of the dictator to serve his cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

. Industrial and agricultural landscapes were popular subjects, glorifying the achievements of the Soviet economy. Novelists were expected to produce uplifting stories in a manner consistent with the Marxist doctrine of dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism
Dialectical materialism is a strand of Marxism synthesizing Hegel's dialectics. The idea was originally invented by Moses Hess and it was later developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

. Composers were to produce rousing, vivid music that reflected the life and struggles of the proletariat. It was argued that mere photographic replication of facts was merely "naturalism", while socialist realism was distinguished by a will and purpose on part of the artist, and his recognition of these facts as part of a vision of the whole. Even diarists would attempt to fit their accounts of their daily lives into suitable purpose-driven, future-oriented accounts.

Socialist realism thus demanded close adherence to party doctrine, and has often been criticized as detrimental to the creation of true, unfettered art or as being little more than a means to censor artistic expression. Vsevolod Kochetov
Vsevolod Kochetov
Vsevolod Anissimovich Kochetov was a Soviet Russian writer and cultural functionary. He has been described as a party dogmatist and as a classic of socialist realism...

 is one of the typical representatives who rigorously applied those doctrines even in 1960s and early 1970s. Czesław Miłosz, writing in the introduction to Sinyavsky's On Socialist Realism, describes the products of socialist realism as "inferior", ascribing this as necessarily proceeding from the limited view of reality permitted to creative artists.

Not all Marxists accepted the necessity of socialist realism (Marx, Engels and Trotsky's views on art and culture were very liberal and may have balked at the propagandism of Socialist realism themselves). Its establishment as state doctrine in the 1930s had rather more to do with internal Communist Party politics than classic Marxist imperatives. The Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 Marxist essayist Georg Lukács
Georg Lukács
György Lukács was a Hungarian Marxist philosopher and literary critic. He is a founder of the tradition of Western Marxism. He contributed the concept of reification to Marxist philosophy and theory and expanded Karl Marx's theory of class consciousness. Lukács' was also an influential literary...

 criticized the rigidity of socialist realism, proposing his own "critical realism" as an alternative. However, such critical voices were a rarity until the 1980s.

Notable works and artists



Maxim Gorky
Maxim Gorky
Alexei Maximovich Peshkov , primarily known as Maxim Gorky , was a Russian and Soviet author, a founder of the Socialist Realism literary method and a political activist.-Early years:...

's novel Mother is usually considered to have been the first socialist realist novel. Gorky was also a major factor in the school's rapid rise, and his pamphlet, On Socialist Realism, essentially lays out the needs of Soviet art. Other important works of literature include Fyodor Gladkov
Fyodor Gladkov
Fyodor Vasilyevich Gladkov was a Soviet Socialist realist writer born on in Chernavka, Saratov gubernia to a family of Old Believers. He died on December 20, 1958 in Moscow. Gladkov joined a Communist group in 1904, and in 1905 went to Tiflis and was arrested there for revolutionary activities....

's Cement
Cement (novel)
Cement is a Russian novel by Fyodor Gladkov . Published in 1925, the book is arguably the first in Soviet Socialist Realist literature to depict the struggles of post-Revolutionary reconstruction in the Soviet Union...

 (1925), Nikolai Ostrovsky
Nikolai Ostrovsky
Nikolai Alexeevich Ostrovsky was a Soviet socialist realist writer, who published his works during the Stalin era...

's How the Steel Was Tempered
How the Steel Was Tempered
How the Steel Was Tempered is a socialist realist novel written by Nikolai Ostrovsky during Joseph Stalin's era. Pavel Korchagin is the central character.- Analysis :...

, and Mikhail Sholokhov's two volume epic, Quiet Flows the Don (1934) and The Don Flows Home to the Sea
The Don Flows Home to the Sea
The Don Flows Home to the Sea is the second in the series of the great Don epic written by Mikhail Sholokhov. It originally appeared in serialized form between 1928 and 1940...

 (1940).

Martin Andersen Nexø
Martin Andersen Nexø
Martin Andersen Nexø was a Danish writer. He was the first significant Danish author to depict the working class in his writings, and the first great Danish socialist, later communist, writer.-Biography:...

 developed socialist realism in his own way. His creative method was characterized by a combination of publicistic passion, a critical view of capitalist society, and a steadfast striving to bring reality into accord with socialist ideals. The novel "Pelle, the Conqueror" is considered to be a classic of socialist realism. The novel "Ditte, Daughter of Man" had a working-class woman as its heroine. He battled against the enemies of socialism in the books "Two Worlds", and "Hands Off!".

The novels of Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon , was a French poet, novelist and editor, a long-time member of the Communist Party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.- Early life :...

 such as "The Real World" depicts the working class as a rising force of the nation. He published two books of documentary prose, "The Communist Man." In the collection of poems "A Knife in the Heart Again", Aragon criticizes the penetration of American imperialism into Europe. The novel "The Holy Week" depicts the artist's path toward the people against a broad social and historical background.

Hanns Eisler
Hanns Eisler
Hanns Eisler was an Austrian composer.-Family background:Eisler was born in Leipzig where his Jewish father, Rudolf Eisler, was a professor of philosophy...

 composed many workers' songs, marches, and ballads on current political topics such as "Song of Solidarity", "Song of the United Front", and "The Cominten." He was a founder of a new style of revolutionary song for the masses. He also composed works in larger forms such as "Requiem for Lenin". Eisler's most important works include the cantatas "German Symphony", "Serenade of the Age" and "Song of Peace." Eisler combines features of revolutionary songs with varied expression. His symphonic music is known for its complex and subtle orchestration.

Closely associated with the rise of the labor movement was the development of the revolutionary song, which was performed at demonstrations and meetings. Among the most famous of the revolutionary songs are "The Internationale
The Internationale
The Internationale is a famous socialist, communist, social-democratic and anarchist anthem.The Internationale became the anthem of international socialism, and gained particular fame under the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1944, when it was that communist state's de facto central anthem...

" and "Warszawianka". Notable songs from Russia include "Boldly, Comrades, in Step", "Workers' Marseillaise", and "Rage, Tyrants". Folk and revolutionary songs influenced the Soviet mass songs. The mass song was a leading genre in Soviet music, especially during the 1930s and the war. The mass song influenced other genres, including the art song, opera, and film music. The most popular mass songs include Dunaevsky's
Isaak Dunayevsky
Isaak Osipovich Dunayevsky was the biggest Soviet film composer and conductor of the 1930s and 1940s, who achieved huge success in music for operetta and film comedies, frequently working with the film director Grigori Aleksandrov...

 "Song of the Homeland", Blanter's
Matvey Blanter
Matvei Isaakovich Blanter was one of the most prominent composers of popular songs and film music in the Soviet Union. Among many other works, he wrote the internationally famous "Katyusha" , performed to this day in countries around the world...

 "Katiusha
Katyusha (song)
Katyusha, Katusha or Katjusha is a Soviet wartime song about a girl longing for her beloved, who is away on military service. The music was composed in 1938 by Matvei Blanter and the lyrics were written by Mikhail Isakovsky. It was first performed by Valentina Batishcheva in the Column Hall of...

", Novikov's "Hymn of Democratic Youth of the World", and Aleksandrov's
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov was a Russian Soviet composer, the founder of the Alexandrov Ensemble, who wrote the music for the national anthem of the Soviet Union, which, in 2001, became the anthem of Russia . During his career, he also worked as a professor of the Moscow State Conservatory,...

 "Sacred War
Svyaschennaya Voyna
Svyashchennaya Voyna was one of the most famous Soviet songs associated with the Second World War. It was written by Vasily Lebedev-Kumach in 1941 upon the beginning of the German invasion of the Soviet Union...

".

In the early 1930s, Soviet filmmakers applied socialist realism in their work. Notable films include "Chapaev", which shows the role of the people in the history-making process. The theme of revolutionary history was developed in films like "The Youth of Maxim
The Youth of Maxim
The Youth of Maxim is a 1935 Soviet film directed by Grigori Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg, the first part of trilogy about the life of a young factory worker, Maxim....

", by Grigori Kozintsev
Grigori Kozintsev
Grigori Mikhaylovich Kozintsev was a Jewish Ukrainian, Soviet Russian theatre and film director. He was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1964.He studied in the Imperial Academy of Arts...

 and Leonid Trauberg
Leonid Trauberg
Leonid Zakharovich Trauberg was a Jewish Ukrainian Soviet film director and screenwriter. He directed 17 films between 1924 and 1961 and was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941.-Filmography:* The Adventures of Oktyabrina ...

, "Shchors
Shchors (film)
Shchors is a 1939 Soviet film by Ukrainian director Alexander Dovzhenko. Commissioned by Joseph Stalin, the film is a biography of the partisan leader and Ukrainian Bolshevik Nikolai Shchors. Shchors is played by Yevgeny Samoylov ....

" by Dovzhenko, and "We are from Kronstadt" by E. Dzigan. The shaping of the new man under socialism was a theme of films like "A Start Life" by N. Ekk, "Ivan" by Dovzhenko, and "Valerii Chkalov" by M. Kalatozov. Some films depicted the part of peoples of the Soviet Union against foreign invaders: "Alexander Nevsky" by Eisenstein, "Minin and Pozharsky" by Pudvokin, and "Bogdan Khmelnitsky" by Savchenko. Soviet politicians were the subjects in films such as Yutkevich
Sergei Yutkevich
Sergei Iosifovich Yutkevich was an award-winning Soviet film director and screenwriter.-Life and career:He began work as a teen doing puppet shows. Later he helped found the Factory of the Eccentric Actor , which was primarily concerned with circus and music hall acts. He entered films in the...

's trilogy of movies about Lenin.

Socialist realism was also applied to Hindi films
Bollywood
Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi-language film industry based in Mumbai , Maharashtra, India. The term is often incorrectly used to refer to the whole of Indian cinema; it is only a part of the total Indian film industry, which includes other production centers producing...

 of the 1940s and 1950s. These include Chetan Anand
Chetan Anand (producer & director)
Chetan Anand was an acclaimed Hindi film producer, screenwriter and director from India, whose debut film, Neecha Nagar, bagged the Palme d'Or award, at the Cannes Film Festival in 1946....

's Neecha Nagar
Neecha Nagar
Neecha Nagar is a 1946 Hindi film directed by Chetan Anand. Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, this film was a pioneering effort in social realism in Indian cinema, and paved the way for many such 'Parallel Cinema' films by other directors and many of them written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas...

 (1946), which won the Grand Prize
Palme d'Or
The Palme d'Or is the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival and is presented to the director of the best feature film of the official competition. It was introduced in 1955 by the organising committee. From 1939 to 1954, the highest prize was the Grand Prix du Festival International du...

 at the 1st Cannes Film Festival
1946 Cannes Film Festival
The 1st Cannes Film Festival was held from September 20 to October 5, 1946.- Jury :*Georges Huisman *Iris Barry *Beaulieu *Antonin Brousil *J.H.J...

, and Bimal Roy
Bimal Roy
Bimal Roy was one of the most acclaimed Indian film directors of all time. He is particularly noted for his realistic and socialistic films like Do Bigha Zamin, Parineeta, Biraj Bahu, Madhumati, Sujata, and Bandini, making him an important director of Hindi cinema...

's Two Acres of Land (1953), which won the International Prize at the 7th Cannes Film Festival
1954 Cannes Film Festival
-Jury:*Jean Cocteau *Jean Aurenche *André Bazin *Luis Buñuel*Henri Calef *Guy Desson *Philippe Erlanger *Michel Fourre-Cormeray *Jacques-Pierre Frogerais...

.

The painter Aleksandr Deineka provides a notable example for his expressionist and patriotic scenes of the Second World War, collective farms, and sports. Yuri Pimenov
Yuri Pimenov
Yuri Igorevich Pimenov is a Russian former rower who competed for the Soviet Union in the 1980 Summer Olympics and in the 1988 Summer Olympics and for the Unified Team in the 1992 Summer Olympics.He is the twin brother of Nikolay Pimenov....

, Boris Ioganson
Boris Ioganson
Boris Vladimirovich Ioganson was a Russian painter.Ioganson was born in Moscow. His father's Swedish ancestors russified the surname "Johanson"" into "Ioganson." Ioganson attended the Moscow School of Art and studied under Kasatkin and Malyutin. He was a member of the Society of Young Artists,...

 and Geli Korzev have also been described as "unappreciated masters of twentieth-century realism". Another well-known practitioner was Fyodor Pavlovich Reshetnikov.

Consequences



Socialist realism's rigid precepts and enforcement greatly hindered the freedom of Soviet artists. Many artists and authors found their works censored, ignored, or rejected. Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

, for instance, was forced to write his masterwork, The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and one of the foremost Soviet satires, directed against a...

, in secret, despite earlier successes such as White Guard. In 1936 Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Shostakovich
Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich was a Soviet Russian composer and one of the most celebrated composers of the 20th century....

 was directly condemned for his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk in a Pravda
Pravda
Pravda was a leading newspaper of the Soviet Union and an official organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party between 1912 and 1991....

 article entitled "Muddle instead of Music", and soon after switched to a more conservative style; it rumoured the article was personally written by Stalin. Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

 too found his musical language increasingly restricted in the years after his permanent return to the Soviet Union in 1935 (especially in the wake of the 1948 Zhdanov Decree
Zhdanov Doctrine
The Zhdanov Doctrine was a Soviet cultural doctrine developed by the Central Committee secretary Andrei Zhdanov in 1946. It proposed that the world was divided into two camps: the imperialistic, headed by the United States; and democratic, headed by the Soviet Union...

), although he continued to compose until the end of his life five years later. Alexander Mosolov
Alexander Mosolov
Alexander Vasilyevich MosolovMosolov's name is transliterated variously and inconsistently between sources. Alternative spellings of Alexander include Alexandr, Aleksandr, Aleksander, and Alexandre; variations on Mosolov include Mossolov and Mossolow...

 was expelled from the Union of Soviet Composers
Union of Soviet Composers
The USSR Union of Composers or Union of Composers of the USSR , , was a professional organisation of composers in the Soviet Union...

 in 1936 and imprisoned in the Gulag
Gulag
The Gulag was the government agency that administered the main Soviet forced labor camp systems. While the camps housed a wide range of convicts, from petty criminals to political prisoners, large numbers were convicted by simplified procedures, such as NKVD troikas and other instruments of...

 a year later for composing formalistic music, and was so harshly rehabilitated that his compositions written after his release show none of his early individualism.

The political doctrine behind socialist realism also underlay the pervasive censorship of Communist societies. Apart from obvious political considerations that saw works such as those of George Orwell
George Orwell
Eric Arthur Blair , better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist...

 being banned, access to foreign art and literature was also restricted on aesthetic grounds. Bourgeois
Bourgeoisie
In sociology and political science, bourgeoisie describes a range of groups across history. In the Western world, between the late 18th century and the present day, the bourgeoisie is a social class "characterized by their ownership of capital and their related culture." A member of the...

 art and all forms of experimentalism and formalism
Formalism (art)
In art theory, formalism is the concept that a work's artistic value is entirely determined by its form--the way it is made, its purely visual aspects, and its medium. Formalism emphasizes compositional elements such as color, line, shape and texture rather than realism, context, and content...

 were denounced as decadent, degenerate and pessimistic, and therefore anti-Communist in principle. The works of James Joyce
James Joyce
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century...

 were particularly harshly condemned. The net effect was that it was not until the 1980s that the general public in the Communist countries were able to freely access many works of Western art and literature. Many then joined Western observers in denouncing socialist realism as mere propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

.

The Sots Art
Sots Art
Often referred to as “Soviet Pop Art”, Sots Art originated in the Soviet Union in the early 1970s as a reaction against the official aesthetic doctrine of the state—"Socialist Realism"...

 paintings of Komar and Melamid
Komar and Melamid
Komar and Melamid is an artistic team made up of Russian-born American graphic artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid . In an artists’ statement they said that “Even if only one of us creates some of the projects and works, we usually sign them together...

 can be viewed as a parody
Parody
A parody , in current usage, is an imitative work created to mock, comment on, or trivialise an original work, its subject, author, style, or some other target, by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation...

 of socialist realism.

Further reading

  • Bek, Mikuláš, Geoffrey Chew, and Petr Macek (eds.). Socialist Realism and Music. Musicological Colloquium at the Brno International Music Festival 36. Prague: KLP; Brno: Institute of Musicology, Masaryk University, 2004. ISBN 80-86791-18-1
  • Golomstock, Igor. Totalitarian Art in the Soviet Union, the Third Reich, Fascist Italy and the People's Republic of China, Harper Collins, 1990.
  • James, C. Vaughan. Soviet Socialist Realism: Origins and Theory. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1973.
  • Ivanov, Sergei. "Unknown Socialist Realism. The Leningrad School". Saint Petersburg, NP-Print, 2007 ISBN13 9785901724217
  • Prokhorov, Gleb. Art under Socialist Realism: Soviet Painting, 1930–1950. East Roseville, NSW, Australia: Craftsman House; G + B Arts International, 1995. ISBN 976-8097-83-3
  • Rideout, Walter B. The Radical Novel in the United States: 1900–1954. Some Interrelations of Literature and Society. New York: Hill and Wang, 1966.
  • Christian Saehrendt, Kunst als Botschafter einer künstlichen Nation (Art from an artificial nation – about modern art as a tool of the GDRs propaganda), Stuttgart 2009 (
  • Sinyavsky, Andrei
    Andrei Sinyavsky
    Andrei Donatovich Sinyavsky was a Russian writer, dissident, political prisoner, emigrant, Professor of Sorbonne University, magazine founder and publisher...

     [writing as Abram Tertz]. "The Trial Begins", and "On Socialist Realism", translated by Max Hayward and George Dennis, with an introduction by Czesław Miłosz. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960–1982. ISBN 0-520-04677-3
  • Lin Jung-hua. Post-Soviet Aestheticians Rethinking Russianization and Chinization of Marxizm//Russian Language and Literature Studies. Serial № 33. Beijing, Capital Normal University, 2011, №3. Р.46-53.

External links