How the Russian Revolution changed the lives of Jewish artists

After the Bolsheviks seized control of Russia in 1917, one of the many ways they changed the empire was converting a former imperial porcelain factory in St. Petersburg — then Leningrad — into a propaganda plant. They ordered the factory’s artists to start designing Communist Party porcelain.

“The task for these artists was to proselytize the masses, to propagandize the masses, to ‘agitate,’ as they called it, the masses,” said Anna Winestein, a specialist on Russia’s visual art and theater history. She’s curated an exhibition in Massachusetts about Jewish artists of the Russian and Soviet empires at the Museum of Russian Icons.

One porcelain plate designed by the Jewish artist Mikhail Adamovich shows a Red Army soldier stomping on signs with the names of White Army generals. Adamovich designed it in 1923 to commemorate five years since the beginning of the Russian Civil War, which the Red Army won.

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