Tate Modern has already hosted an exhibition of art of the most popular Russian avant-garde artist Kazimir Malevich. Back in 2014 UK got known of Russian art of one of the most turbulent periods in twentieth century history. Now, Tate Modern announced a new exhibition dedicated to the political visual art of Russia and the Soviet Union.

Red Star over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture is the name of upcoming exhibition, which going to explore a dramatic visual history of Russia and the Soviet Union of the early 20th century. Thus, authors of the exhibition bring together such common for revolution period things as posters, illustrations and mottos from 1905 to the death of Stalin. Also, there will be paintings, photographs, and books going on display.

The Centenary of the Revolution

Living in the Digital Era the revolution may seem different: covers may have changed, while the ideas and tools to the changes stay the same. However, people still hope to learn after fathers, and today we have a priceless opportunity to watch, compare and analyse. In this case, the best way to feel the spirit of hopeful time and dramatic changes is as it seen through the eyes of artists, designers and photographers – direct translators of ideas to people and back.

The centenary after the October Revolution is being marked in 2017. The topic of revolution is hot nowadays, and such exhibitions can remind people that revolution is always tough and not always so heroic as it may seem. No doubt, the rebellion of the October Revolution brought lots of difficulties to normal lives of Russian people. Furthermore, the whole century brought hope, chaos, heroism and tragedy together with regime changing, endured revolutions, civil war, dictatorship and Nazi invasion.

After all, the exhibition shows how a new visual culture arose and transformed the fabric of everyday life.

The Core of the Exhibition

The items for the exhibition are brought up together with help of late graphic artist and photographer David King. King had an extraordinary collection of over 250,000 items relating to this period, which he built while working for The Sunday Times Magazine in the 1970s. The collection was acquired by Tate in 2016. This show is an opportunity to see the rare propaganda posters, prints and photographs collected by King. Moreover, some of them bear traces of state censorship, what touches upon another significant issue. Furthermore, propaganda always tried to correct the reality and destroy evidences of the past through out the century, so the exhibition gives a chance to see real rare items of those times.

What is interesting about the exhibition, is that the world raised stigmas about soviet Russia and the revolution partly with its own help. Therefore, the best way to know about those time is to explore the ways revolutionists tried to inspire people and unite them for never-came bright future and compare with real lives and bloody events of those times. These events include the overthrow of the last Tsar, Stalin’s campaign of terror, the uprisings of 1917, and the struggles of the Civil War. Such political changes not only sparked huge social change, but also inspired “a wave of innovation in art and graphic design across the country.”

Artists and Works

The show will feature sharp and vivid imagery from artists such as Adolf Strakhov, Valentina Kulagina, Dmitrii Moor, El Lissitzky, Aleksandr Rodchenko and Nina Vatolina – much of which will be on public display for the first time. Works of such avant-garde artists as Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich and Tatlin suffered a pressure of Stalin’s policy. Alongside the Socialist Realism artists, exploring and encouraged by communistic ideas, as Brodsky, Deineka, Mukhina and Samokhvalov. Earlier, dedicated to the anniversary of the Revolution, works of these artists have been presented at the exhibition at Royal Academy of Arts in London. Compare to this exhibition Tate Modern expands the study of the relationship between human and art.

Moreover, it mostly represents a popular and non-elitist art, what makes a better reflection of moods among the people.

These works capture both the idealistic aspirations and the dramatis reality of the Revolution and its results. Not so long ago a photographer Neils Ackermann travelled across Ukraine to locate all of lost monuments of Lenin. The event of destruction of the red Lenin statue in central Kiev is pretty symbolic itself. Such action can be interpreted as common sense that local post-soviet countries still feel that they are carrying century-old chains and see Lenin as a symbol of submission to the Soviets. But for now, ropes, chains and hammers destroyed the communist icon into countless pieces. Thus, we can assume that soviet Russia has left an indelible mark. Even if the country doesn’t exist anymore it still finds its allies and enemies in the real world, revolutionary events and art.

Red Star over Russia: A Revolution in Visual Culture 1905 – 55 will run at the Tate Modern’s Blavatnik Building from November 8th to February 18th, 2018.

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