For the first time in the Netherlands, from November 17, 2012 till June 9 2013, the Drents Museum presents a wide selection of the most impressive and characteristic art created in the Soviet Union during the Stalin dictatorship. The exhibition ‘The Soviet Myth. Socialist Realism 1932 -1960’ contains some 70 paintings idealising the Soviet society.
In the new exhibition wing, monumental and dramatic works by artists such as Alexander Deineka, Alexander Samokhvalov, Isaak Brodskij, Arkadi Plastov and Kazimir Malevtsj will be shown. One of the highlights in this exhibition is ‘On peaceful fields‘(1950) by Andrei Mylnikov, measuring an imposing two by four metres. The paintings are on loan from the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg, which houses the largest and most important collection in this field. Complementary to this exhibition, on the first floor of the old building, the museum shows an exposition entitled: ‘Together and Alone. Life in Russia from 1900 till now’, which allows the visitor a view into the life of the ‘ordinary Russians’.
The Soviet Myth: massive propaganda art
The majority of this selection of paintings covers a period of time which largely coincides with Joseph Stalin’s dictatorship (1932 – 1953). In addition, the exhibition shows works from before that period (the 1920’s and 1930’s) and from the period immediately following the Stalin Era (the middle of the 1950’s till the 1960’s). During the Stalin regime, artists were given a large part to play in the realisation of the revolution. They were part of the creation of a glowing, buzzing, enervating modern mythology: the Soviet Myth. The Drents Museum will show the most important themes in Soviet Art: countryside and industry, leader cult and family, sports and the new image of women.
Most of the paintings are massive, since they were intended for large public areas such as factories, offices, barracks and government buildings. While the most typical examples have been selected, specific attention has been paid as well to the diversity and artistic quality of Socialist Realism. The express purpose of this presentation is to see these paintings not merely as the result of political and historical circumstances, but as autonomous works of art.
Sjeng Scheijen is curator of ‘The Sovjet Myth’ and, together with Harry Tupan, was editor of the accompanying exhibition catalogue.
For more details, see: www.drentsmuseum.nl