For a few more days, London-based lovers of Cold War art can head to Sotheby’s to experience a rare exhibition of Soviet Socialist Realism. The 35 paintings, drawings and sculptures that comprise Soviet Art. Soviet Sport exemplify the heroic realism that was a defining feature of the official art of the Soviet Union. Socialist Realist art provided a vision of an idealised future ostensibly achievable through the Soviet people’s submission to the ideals of socialism. Sport was a popular theme for this visual propaganda as it showed off the muscular bodies of the New Soviet Men and Women who would build this utopia.
Featuring work from the 1930s all the way to the 1980s, the display includes one such depiction of the epitomised New Soviet Woman by perhaps the most famous proponent of Socialist Realism, Alexander Deineka. The artist described the subject of sport as ‘inexhaustible because it is democratic and popular … it is lyrical, it is positive and full of optimism. It draws on heroic origins.’
After the exhibition closes in London on 14 January, it will transfer to Moscow, to open in an enlarged format at the Institute of Russian Realist Art on 5 February 2014. You can find out more in the video below:
Images: Aleksandr A. Deineka, Sportswoman Tying a Ribbon, 1950s. Charcoal and sanguine on paper, 99 x 79 сm. Institute of Russian Realist Art.