The Birth of Socialist Realism from the Spirit of the Russian Avant-Garde

  • Boris Groys
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)


Increasing attention has recently been devoted by students of Soviet culture to the period of transition from the avant-garde of the 1920s to the Socialist Realism of the 1930s and 1940s.1 This transition had not previously seemed problematic: it was usually regarded as the result of the crushing by Stalin’s conservative and despotic regime of the ‘true, contemporary and revolutionary art of the Russian avantgarde’ and the propagation of ‘backward art’, reflecting the low cultural level both of the broad masses of the Soviet population and of the Party leadership, in the spirit of nineteenth-century naturalism. As the materials of that period have come to be more closely studied, such a purely sociological explanation of this transition has ceased to be satisfactory.


Socialist Realism Political Leadership Easel Painting Traditional Painting Artistic Decision 
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies 1990

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  • Boris Groys

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