The Russian Avant-Garde and Socialist Realism movements have been the subject of several previous exhibitions as separate entities. However, "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" brings the two movements together in a single exhibit, using as its starting point the major 1932 exhibition at the State Russian Museum in Leningrad, orchestrated by art critic and curator Nikolai Punin.
The exhibition, celebrating the centenary of the Russian Revolution, spanned 33 rooms of the Leningrad museum, presenting a broad range of Russian art from the 15 years that followed the Revolution. London's Royal Academy of Arts follows this example with a show presenting a wide selection of works from the post-Revolutionary period.
"Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" features over 200 works -- including painting, sculptures, films, posters and porcelain -- from Avant-Garde artists of the time, like Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich, Tatlin, as well as artists from the Socialist Realism movement, such as Brodsky, Deineka, Mukhina and Samokhvalov. The exhibition is divided into several sections. "Salute the Leader" examines Lenin's rise to power, his cult status after his death, and the advent of Stalin. "Man and Machine" evokes the men and women who were glorified as proletarian worker heroes, whose physical toil promoted the success of industry and technology. The exhibition notably explores how this notion was expressed through photography and film.
"Brave New World" focuses on the emerging new cultural world and "Fate of the Peasants" looks at the impact of collective farming on rural life. "Eternal Russia" explores how images of old Russia continued to be used as symbols of national identity in revolutionary times. "New City, New Society" looks at new urban lifestyles and their social differences and "Stalin's Utopia" focuses on Stalin's grandiose projects and the darker reality of his utopian vision of progress.
One unmissable is the gallery that features more than 30 paintings by Malevich, hung in an exact reconstruction of the 1932 exhibition.
"Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932" runs February 11 to April 17, 2017, at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK.