One hunded years on, museums mark the Bolshevik Revolution

A Revolutionary Impulse: the Rise of the Russian Avant-Garde, Museum of Modern Art, New York (until 12 March)

Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Composition: Airplane Flying (1915) (© and courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York)

The Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA) led the way and opened the first of the big international anniversary shows devoted to the art of the Russian Revolution in December. A Revolutionary Impulse (until 12 March), focuses on the period 1912-35 and includes the big names of Suprematism and Constructivism: Kazimir Malevich, El Lissitzky and Aleksandr Rodchenko, among others. It also looks at how artists such as Natalia Goncharova and Mikhail Larionov fused Cubism and Futurism with Russian folklore and includes experiments in photography and film by Sergei Eisenstein. Around 260 of the museum’s more than 1,000 works from the period are on show in this exhibition.

Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932, Royal Academy of Arts, London (11 February-17 April)

Five years in the making, Revolution: Russian Art 1917–1932 opens this month at the Royal Academy of Arts. The exhibition documents competing ideas by showing avant-garde and Socialist Realist artists alongside each other. It draws inspiration from an exhibition organised by the art critic Nikolai Punin in 1932 that surveyed 3,000 works of contemporary Russian art. The London institution will also recreate the room devoted to Malevich, with more than 30 paintings and architectons installed together for the first time in 85 years. “Normally, museums look at Russian art of this period in terms of the general sweep of international modern art,” says the show’s co-curator, John Milner. “We are taking a new look at Russian art in terms of the Russian context in which it was made, and the conditions at the time that united often disparate groups.”

Red Star Over Russia, Tate Modern, London (8 November-18 February 2018)

In the fall, Tate Modern opens Red Star Over Russia, which covers visual culture from the Russia-wide strikes of 1905 to Stalin’s death in 1953. The bulk of the works are drawn from the collection of more than 250,000 photographs, posters and newspapers belonging to the late graphic designer and Soviet art expert David King, which are now in the Tate’s collection. The show's chief curator, Natalia Sidlina, says it is the “world’s most important collection of published and archival work from the turn of the century until Khrushchev”. It underlines the point that the vast majority of Russia’s people only experienced art through printed media, she says. 

by Jane Morris | 11 February 17