Final Interview: Preserving and Showcasing this part of Russian history

Sergei Luchishkin
Skiers - 1926
Painting follows common sports theme

The Russian State Museum in St. Petersburg is undoubtedly one of the greatest museums to explore Russian art. The entire museum is devoted to displaying solely Russian art. I was lucky enough to visit the museum three times, twice in a tour group and once with only my community consultant. When I visited as part of a group, we saw art from many time periods, but barely had enough time to see all of the most famous pieces. The museum is so large and full of many spectacular pieces. When I went with my community consultant we focused mostly on Soviet Era art. Although as previously noted, we did not see all too much Socialist Realist Paintings. My third interview was with a curator at the Russian State Russian Museum. I had the chance to ask her about how decisions of what paintings to display were made. We also discussed the international interest in Socialist Realist paintings.

When I asked about how paintings are selected she told me that artistic merit is the number one factor. After that she said, "When considering a Socialist Realist narrative painting, it is primarily its theme, its subject matter and not the political slogan that define the selection." The museum itself does not have enough space to display many paintings from this time period, so the selection process is very strict.

Vyacheslav Pakulin
Woman with buckets - 1928 (?)
She also mentioned that paintings from this time period are in high demand in Russia. There are many temporary exhibits throughout the major cities in the country. Twice a year the Russian State Museum holds a special seminar for college students about Socialist Realist paintings. This allows for more education and exposure. She noted that formal publications on Socialist Realism are lacking, but there are publications that accompany the exhibitions.

On the global scale, there is high interest into Russian Socialist Realism paintings. She explained about the international and domestic exhibitions, "In the recent past such exhibitions were associated with reconsideration of the Soviet cultural and artistic legacy and achievement in the context of disintegration of the Soviet Union. As a result, this art was presented in a chronological order and in the academic way (when possible), namely the official art and non-official art, artists of the first rank and of the second rank and so on." There have been a few international exhibits that have begun to occur regularly as well. This huge piece of Russian history and culture is still very much a fascination of the world. 

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