"BUILD A NEW WORLD," cried the young artists. Liberated by Russia's revolution of 1917, they began to transform their dream of social equality into reality. For those devoted to the Communist movement, art was no longer a luxury but a political tool meant for the street, the factory, the worker and the masses. The Soviet state harnessed the energy of painters, sculptors, photographers and architects to carry its message of freedom to its citizens. The Constructivists no longer found themselves at the periphery of society. At the same time in 1918 Chagall became Arts Commissar for the province of Vitebsk [Chagall's hometown--now in Belarus], and founded the Vitebsk People's Art College. But soon his personal subjects seemed out of step with the radical new work of politics, industry and geometrical abstraction.You can say that again. There was no way that this sort of thing--all fluid lines and limp figures--
fit it with the hard, angular, in-your-face totalitarian-style then emerging. For example, the exhibit features this poster by Constructivist El Lissitzky:
Part of the commentary accompanying this work informs us that
...El Lissitsky fuses photographs of two youthful heads--male and female--superimposing text and geometric forms to create an arresting design that evokes the forward-looking vision of the Soviet state.Yeah, they were sooo "forward-looking," those Soviets. So "forward-looking," in fact, that they looked forward to the mass starvation of millions. Such was the "vision" of brutal dictator Stalin, whose amorality and cold-bloodedness was summed up in the famous quotation about mass deaths being a matter of mere statistics.
Is it just me, or is this exhibit being overly sanguine, to say the least, in its view of Lenin's lads and the horrors they wrought?