Sculpture at Korea’s Secret Tunnel

Following a tip-off from a North Korean defector, on 17 October 1978 South Korea discovered the existence of what is now known as the Third Tunnel of Aggression. It is the closest to Seoul of four such tunnels, secret passageways linking the two territories that were chiselled out of bedrock to prepare for a surprise invasion from the north. There are believed to be up … Continue reading Sculpture at Korea’s Secret Tunnel

Youth Mao Zedong Statue

On 1 October 1949 Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. Over the next half a century the country witnessed the trauma of the Great Leap Forward and social upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, and gradually progressed to become a superpower. Although now a technologically-advantaged nation with a booming economy, the visual culture of Mao’s China continues to loom large … Continue reading Youth Mao Zedong Statue

Golden Statue for Laos’ Secret War

After years of French colonial rule, Laos was finally granted autonomy on 19 July 1949 before achieving independence in 1953. Yet its celebrations would be short-lived. Barely a fortnight afterwards a bitter civil war broke out which would divide the country for over two decades. As the conflict rapidly became a high-stakes Cold War proxy war, the revolutionary communist group, Pathet Lao, and the Royal … Continue reading Golden Statue for Laos’ Secret War

The Divided Brothers of the Korean War

On 25 June 1950 North Korea surprised its southern neighbour with a sudden invasion, sparking the start of the Korean War. As the United States entered the fray on the side of South Korea, while China lent support to its communist ally, a bloody battle ensued that lasted until 1953. In 1994 the War Memorial of Korea opened in Seoul. As visitors approach they are … Continue reading The Divided Brothers of the Korean War

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

Yuri Gagarin: The Soviet Superman

When Soviet pilot Yuri Gagarin completed an orbit of the Earth aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft on 12 April 1961, his life would never be the same again. As the first human to travel into outer space, marking a triumphant victory in the Soviet’s ‘space race’ with the United States, Gagarin was transformed overnight into an international celebrity. The cosmonaut’s likeness would soon appear in … Continue reading Yuri Gagarin: The Soviet Superman

The Reclining Lenins of Ukraine

In times of revolution, political statuary often pays the price. Since Ukraine’s latest troubles began, sculptures symbolising the country’s turbulent relationship with Russia have felt the full force of the nation’s anger. A “statue war” between pro- and anti-Russian citizens foreshadowed the current crisis, with at least 12 statues of Lenin defaced in Ukraine since 2009. One of the casualties was a historic statue in the … Continue reading The Reclining Lenins of Ukraine

The Artistic Rehabilitation of Oppenheimer

On 18 February 1967, legendary physicist and “father of the atomic bomb” J. Robert Oppenheimer passed away. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States demonstrated the terrible power of Oppenheimer’s creation, the scientist reflected that “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds“. His obvious torment at the destruction he had unleashed, together with his communist connections, led the … Continue reading The Artistic Rehabilitation of Oppenheimer