Shades of Red: The Evolution of Early Soviet Painting

Saturday, March 5, 2011 - Sunday, September 11, 2011

Shades of Red: The Evolution of Early Soviet Painting brings together over 60 superb works by Soviet artists painted during the decades immediately following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
Avoiding traditional generalizations about Soviet art, the exhibition explains the dynamic art scene of post-revolutionary Russia. Avant-garde representations of socialist labor, highly polished academic portraits, and colorful portrayals of minority ethnic groups reflect the multi-directional development of Soviet art under both Lenin and Stalin. The exhibition provides a glimpse into the complicated careers of Soviet artists navigating the troubled seas of post-revolutionary Russia.

The art scene during the early Soviet era was never uniform. Dynamic movement towards idealistic social and cultural goals was an inherent part of the early Soviet regime, and the government tolerated aesthetic experimentation as part of the revolutionary environment. However, by the late 1920s and early 1930s, the atmosphere surrounding Soviet art changed as state control over artistic production gradually tightened. Stalin and his bureaucracy imposed Socialist Realism as the only officially sanctioned style of art in 1932.

Shades of Red: The Evolution of Early Soviet Painting will be on view through September 11, 2011.

Suggested exhibit-related reading from our Museum docents

  • Bird, Alan. 1987. A history of Russian painting. Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall.
  • Bowlt, John E. 2008. Moscow & St. Petersburg 1900-1920: art, life & culture of the Russian silver age. New York: Vendome Press.
  • Bown, Matthew Cullerne. 1991. Art under Stalin. New York: Holmes & Meier.
  • Bown, Matthew Cullerne. 1998. Socialist realist painting. New Haven: Yale University Press.
  • Cohen, Stephen F. 1985. Rethinking the Soviet experience: politics and history since 1917. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Elliot, David. 1986. New worlds: Russian art and society, 1900-1937. New York: Rizzoli.
  • Kovtun, Evgueny. 2007. Russian avant-garde. New York: Parkstone International.
  • Moynahan, Brian. Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Annabel Merullo, and Sarah Jackson, Contributors. 1994. The Russian century: a photographic history of Russia’s 100 years. New York: Random House.
  • The Museum of Russian Art. 2007. Raising the Banner: The Art of Geli Korzhev. Minneapolis, MN: The Museum of Russian Art.
  • Salisbury, Harrison. [1969]. The 900 days: the siege of Leningrad. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Skira. 2006. 1900-1919: the avant-garde movements. New York: Distributed in North America by Rizzoli International.
  • Stokesbury, James. 1980. A short history of World War II. New York: Morrow.
  • Tzouliadis, Tim. 2008. The forsaken: an American tragedy in Russia. New York: Penguin Press.