Visit to the Russian State Museum

On July 11th, I had my final meeting with my Community Consultant. We met at the Russian State Museum, a museum dedicated to only Russian art. There is art of many forms from various time periods. We walked through the early 19th century, to see what art looked like pre-revolution. We then explored the porcelain from the Soviet time period. The Soviet leaders wanted to promote the regime and they decided to put propaganda on popular household items. This put Soviet propaganda in every home. Many plates had a hammer and sickle along with slogans glorifying the regime. Chess sets were made to depict the fight of the revolution. Even textiles held hidden (or not so hidden) propaganda. Pieces of textiles that could have been cheaply purchased, held designs of planes, tractors, fields, and the hammer and sickle. There were reminders of the regime everywhere.
Soviet style plate showing the hammer and sickle, but while keeping a
simple design. 

Another Soviet Era plate. The "F" for Federation is constructed out of flowers
to depict the beauty and glorify the founding of the new and better Union.

Another plate showing the hammer and sickle.

Textile showing tractors in order to glorify the farmers and working people.

Textile showing factories in order to glorify industry and the working people.

Another textile- this one consists of the hammer and sickle. 
This is a chess set showing the reds versus the whites. The "pawns" on the red side are all farmers/workers.
All of the white pieces are in chains. 
Beside the plates having propaganda, a new style of design was commonly used. Simple shapes and lines were used to decorate the plates. The simplicity was used to signify the new times and also highlight the importance of simple lives, not tainted with extra, unneeded additions. This style was supposed to be new and different, as a way to distance the new regime from the time of the czars.

A set of dishes with a simple pattern, using only simple colors and shapes. 

Another set of dishes with simple colors and a simple design.

As we entered the paintings gallery, we looked for art from the 1930's and found almost nothing. There was art from the very early 1900's and then lots of art from the 1970's. By the 1960's the level of censorship had dropped dramatically, so these paintings were very free to be any style. The paintings that were in the museum from the correct time period, were not prime examples of Socialist Realism. There were some works of art from artists who were part of the Soviet Union of Artists and thus followed the guidelines and painted acceptable art, but the examples in the museum were fairly boring. There were some still-lifes and portraits. Elena pointed out the paintings she thought best fit into the category of Socialist Realism and so we looked at those. We discussed what made them Socialist Realist paintings, but then at the same time, why they should not be fully considered Socialist Realist.

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