Lectures are in the ArtsHouse: 10.45 for morning members: 13.30 for afternoon members.


Thursday 15 June 2017
june-2017Art and Revolution: The Life and Death of the Russian Avantgarde
Speaker: Rosamund Bartlett

Rosamund Bartlett treated us to a plethora of information in the form of slides, films and music when telling us about the effect of the 1917 Russian revolution on Russian culture. This was a difficult period to be a Russian artist as Russia was behind the rest of the world culturally, the church was powerful and the icon was the chief art form.

The Russian millionaire, Schukin, collected French art and put it on public display. Young Russian artists attended his salon to see paintings by artists such as Picasso. This influenced them as was seen when Larionov held his Jack of Diamonds exhibition which shocked the Russian art world as it poked fun at traditional art. At the same time, Russian poetry evolved through the Futurist movement.

Kandinsky, Chagall, Tatlin and Malevich developed their own styles both inside and outside Russia. Rivalry broke out between Tatlin and Malevich who both sought to become the leader of the Avant-Garde movement. Tatlin used ordinary objects and gave them new radical meanings. He turned a wall into an extension of his art. However, Malevich became the leader with his use of more traditional styles and set up his own Suprematist art school. These painters were seen as a collective as all their art work was signed with his famous black square.

Throughout the chaos of the revolution, the art world kept going. The people’s Commissariat of Enlightenment was set up to promote the Bolshevik cause through art. Lenin encouraged the display of statues of revolutionary figures, such as Marx. Utopian models were constructed bjun-2017-rosamund-bartlettut never built.

AGITPROP was established to promote Communism through posters and even porcelain. The Russian Intelligence Agency issued posters for showing in railway stations.

By 1921, Lenin had to kick start the economy so a form of capitalism was introduced. This promoted a rise in geometric art. Artists turned to film, photography, advertising and theatre design. Music was influenced such as in A Symphonic Dedication to The Revolution by Shostokovich.The introduction of The Five Year Plan resulted in the death of the Avant-Garde movement as Realism returned with paintings of industry.