The Reality of Soviet Art

LONDON, U.K.—The Royal Academy’s Russian Revolution exhibition is vast and complicated. A realist painting of Stalin, glorified, stares from a wall in the first room. Propaganda posters, film footage, architectural models and paintings span the main galleries. Abstract works from Malevich and Tatlin are on show – artists that formed the suprematism and constructivism movements that furthered the ideas of a communist utopia.

History has shown that time and again, these ideas, in practice, end in ruinous violence. Some of the grim history is portrayed in the exhibition in the form of a small black box – a miniature cinema called a room of memory where victims of Stalin’s regime are shown in a slideshow, one by one, including the poet Osip Mandelstam, the art critic Nikolay Punin and peasants who starved to death.

While the memory box reminds us of the perilous communist ideology, walking through the rest of the exhibition

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