Masterpieces of the 20th Century: Russian Realist Tradition


Masterpieces of the 20th Century: Russian Realist Tradition
March 19, 2016-September 25, 2016
The Museum of Russian Art, Main and Mezzanine Galleries

Minneapolis (February 23, 2016) – Masterpieces of the 20th Century: Russian Realist Tradition, sixty superb works by prominent Soviet artists of the post-WWII period, will open on March 19 at The Museum of Russian Art.

Igor A. Popov. Our Courtyard, 1964. Oil on canvas. From a private American collection.

This assemblage of renowned artists includes Sergei Gerasimov, Konstantin Maksimov, Vladimir Stozharov, Geli Korzhev, and many others. Technically proficient and stylistically diverse, these works transcend the rigid categories of stereotypical Soviet art. Their rich, vigorous brushwork explores the unique tradition of Russian realism, breathing new life into artistic trends that flourished in pre-revolutionary Russia.

In the spirit of the Soviet epoch, these paintings were intended to appeal to the masses. Universally understood themes, detailed story telling, and masterful execution were designed to be accessible to all Soviet citizens regardless of their educational level. However, the thematic straightforwardness of these works conceals a sophisticated artistic process and a complex cultural code.

Aleksei M. Gritsai. Spring, 1949. Oil on canvas 19 ⅜ x 27 ⅜ From a private American collection

Realism in art of the Soviet era was unique in its approach to the surrounding world. Rather than focusing on everyday subjects and themes, Soviet realism strove to educate, uplift, or indoctrinate; and it did so by selectively representing or sometimes embellishing reality.

In the atmosphere of state control over the arts, many artists created their own understanding and interpretation
of the tenets of Soviet ideology or, as an alternative, retreated into the themes of nature, be it landscapes, people, or still lifes.