I was in England at the weekend and spent Saturday in London at the Royal Academy. There are two wonderful art exhibitions on at the moment, Russian Revolutionary Art from 1917 - 1932, and America after the Fall; Painting in the 1930's. I would never have forgiven myself if I had missed them, and I am so glad I made the effort to go.
'Revolution' is a brilliant exhibition featuring some amazing art works which reflect the debates and events of the period alongside Communist propaganda. It features work by Vassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich. I was familiar with Kandinsky's work and although I had never heard of Malevich I've become an instant fan. His artistic philosophy was that art should express spirituality and he was known for inventing 'Suprematism' in art and I love how he used colour. Like Kandinsky, he fell out of favour with the powers that be because his art did not express social realities and became disillusioned. One of his most famous pieces is 'Black Square', an abstract painting representing the 'zero of form'.
On the propaganda side, some of it was very interesting and quite relevant today, but I also wondered how closely Hitler had watched Stalin's rise to power, as there were strong parallels between the propaganda of Stalin and the methods used by the Nazis to create the nationalistic narrative of a nation on the rise, taking control of their destiny and their country.
The American exhibition isn't as big as the Russian one but it features some famous works too. Edward Hopper's 'New York Movie' and Grant Woods 'American Gothic' and, of course, many others I didn't know, like Joe Jackson. His painting drew a lot of interest but I'm not going to tell you anything about it, go and see it for yourself. I had seen the Russian exhibition advertised first and hummed and haaad a bit about going, but when I saw the American one was running along side of it, then it was a no brainer.
So, if you are interested in art and/or politics then make the effort and go. I went the whole way from west Tyrone in N. I. to see them, so you've no excuse...and I've no money either but sometimes you just have to say 'to hell with poverty!' and go. It's about the value, not the cost. But if you really can't make it, then you can check them out here:
I think the German feeling of "the nationalistic narrative of a nation on the rise" had been well established by the time of Otto von Bismarck in the 2nd half of the 19th century. In Mein Kampf in 1925 Hitler had already well formed ideas about German supremacy and Germany's belated entitlement to a position on or leading the world stage.
I did not know anything about "the emergence of Socialist Realism, which would come to define Communist art as the only style accepted by the regime" but I do know Hitler would not tolerate modernism or impressionism or any other form of Degenerate Art although some survived.
I went to see 'America after the Fall' a couple of Saturdays ago. It was very interesting. I only had stamina for one of the exhibitions but I might go back and see the Russian one - it runs until 17 April apparently.