Art and the People

  • C. Vaughan James


Socialist Realism, described by Soviet critics as an ‘artistic method’, is supported by a corpus of highly complicated theory which, though it receives little attention in Western commentaries, is the subject of voluminous writing inside the USSR. It embraces a number of important questions: the evolution of art — the organic relationship between the art of the past and the art of the present and future; the class nature of art — its objective reflection of social relations; and the function of art in society — the obligations of the artist to the society in which he works, and hence the relationship between the artist and the politician. Moreover it considers the didactic potential of art and its relationship in this sense with the mass communication media in a modern, industrialised society. It therefore concerns every aspect of intellectual life, and it seems not unreasonable to suggest that it is the essential key to an understanding of the artistic life of the Soviet Union today. In particular it is the natural basis for a discussion of literature and politics.


Communist Party Socialist Realism Soviet Society Objective Reflection Feudal Society 
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References and Notes

  1. 10.
    However, Marx’s dictum that there would come a day when there were no professional artists but only men who, amongst other things, were artists, when reflected in Pletnëv’s article ‘On the Ideological Front’, Právda, 1922, as: ‘The proletarian artist will be artist and worker at the same time’ received very curt comment from Lénin in a pencilled margin note: ‘Rubbish!’ (Vzdor). Quoted by S. Sheshukóv, Neístovye revníteli (Moskóv-skii rabóchii, 1970) p. 28.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    V. G. Belínsky, Pólnoye sobrániye (Ak. Naúk S.S.S.R., 1954) v 308.Google Scholar
  3. 30.
    See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Correspondence (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1965) pp. 73, 100, etc.; see also the article by Geórgi Kunítsyn, Lenin on Partisanship and Freedom of Creativity in the collection Socialist Realism in Literature and Art (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1971).Google Scholar
  4. 35.
    See A. S. Myansikóv and Ya. Ye El’sbérg (eds), Léninskoye naslédiye i literatúra XX véka (Moscow: ‘Khudózhestvennaya literatúra’, 1969) p. 34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© C. Vaughan James 1973

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Vaughan James
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SussexUK

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