What: Evgenii Vuchetich, We Shall Beat Our Swords Into Plowshares, 1957
Where: North garden of the United Nations Headquarters, 760 United Nations Plaza, New York, USA
When the groundbreaking Soviet Exhibition for Science, Technology and Culture closed in New York on 10 August 1959 not all of the Socialist Realist art display returned home. To this day, one piece remains in the grounds of the UN Headquarters in Manhattan: a bronze statue entitled We Shall Beat Our Swords Into Plowshares, by leading Soviet sculptor, Evgenii Vuchetich. The figure was a gift from the Soviet Union at the end of the exhibition as ‘a symbol and expression of the desire of the United Nations and all countries of the world for general disarmament’.
The heroic image of physical power and determination, from the rippling muscles and determined stare of the male figure to the tension in the bent sword, are classic elements of Socialist Realist design. But the title of the work, a biblical quotation that prophesies a future of peace amongst humankind, presented a softer image of the Soviet Union at the time that it was eager to forge closer relationships with the international community.
For readers on the other side of the former Iron Curtain, a copy of the sculpture is also on display outside the New Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (10, ul. Krymskii Val).