What & Where: Soviet Sculpture at the UN Headquarters

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 … Continue reading What & Where: Soviet Sculpture at the UN Headquarters

Featured Artist: Leonhard Lapin

Once a dissident rejected by the state, Leonhard Lapin is now considered one of the most important modern artists in his native Estonia. Born 1947 in what was the Estonian SSR, Lapin trained as an architect but soon began to also create paintings, sculpture and graphics. In the 1960s and ’70s his political views deeply affected both his pioneering work as an architect of the ‘Tallinn … Continue reading Featured Artist: Leonhard Lapin

Featured Artist: Komar and Melamid

Upon graduating from Moscow’s Stroganov School of Art and Design in 1967, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid forged an artistic partnership that would last 36 years. At the forefront of the Soviet Nonconformist Art movement, they participated in exhibitions with other young Russian artists who renounced the strict artistic dogma of Socialist Realism. In 1972 Komar and Melamid founded Sots Art, mixing the aesthetics of … Continue reading Featured Artist: Komar and Melamid

Exhibition of the Month: Soviet Art. Soviet Sport

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 … Continue reading Exhibition of the Month: Soviet Art. Soviet Sport

What & Where: Gerhard Richter’s Hidden Mural

What: Gerhard Richter, The Joy of Life, 1956 Where: Deutsches Hygiene Museum, Dresden, Germany (not on display) An early mural by one of the world’s most famous artists takes pride of place in the foyer of a major German museum – but you can’t see it. In 1956 the 24-year-old Gerhard Richter created The Joy of Life whilst an art student at the Dresden Academy of Arts. … Continue reading What & Where: Gerhard Richter’s Hidden Mural

Recommended Read: Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s

Joseph Backstein, Ekaterina Degot and Boris Groys. Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s. London: Haunch of Venison, 2010. In 2010 the (sadly missed) Haunch of Venison gallery in London presented a rare survey of paintings, sculptures and photographs by ‘unofficial’ Soviet artists, working just prior to the end of the Cold War. Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s introduced visitors to the spirited movements and … Continue reading Recommended Read: Glasnost: Soviet Non-Conformist Art from the 1980s

What & Where: Salaspils Memorial

What: Salaspils Memorial Ensemble Where: Salaspils, near Riga, Latvia Just 18km south of the Latvian capital of Riga lies the ancient town of Salaspils. After the Nazi invasion of the country in 1941, the town gained notoriety as the location of Stalag-350-s, a camp housing Soviet prisoners of war, and the largest civilian German concentration camp in the Baltic states. On 31 October 1967 a memorial … Continue reading What & Where: Salaspils Memorial

Hidden Images After the Velvet Revolution

Over the course of six weeks from 17 November 1989, the Velvet Revolution brought to an end four decades of Communist rule in Czechoslovakia. The protests were led by dissident playwright, Václav Havel, bringing the arts to the forefront of the revolution. Since the Czechoslovak coup d’état of 1948, artists in the country had been forced to submit to the restrictions of Soviet Socialist Realism. … Continue reading Hidden Images After the Velvet Revolution

A Soviet Art Face-Off

60 years ago this month Nikita Khrushchev took over as leader of the Soviet Union. Stalin’s death on 5 March 1953 had unleashed a fierce power struggle amongst his deputies in the Politburo. The coup d’état that brought Khrushchev to power was at the expense of his main rival, Lavrentiy Beria, who was executed for treason in December. Khrushchev’s fighting spirit would lead him into … Continue reading A Soviet Art Face-Off

Featured Artist: Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter was born in Dresden in 1932, at the geographical and temporal epicentre of 20th-century politics. By the time he decided to pursue a career as a painter, he was living in Soviet-controlled East Germany and the only option open to him was to train as a socialist realist artist. After graduating from the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Richter began to resent the restrictions … Continue reading Featured Artist: Gerhard Richter