Socialist realism is not exactly the most fashionable of art movements. The early avant garde art of the Soviet Union is widely celebrated; El Lissitzky’s red wedge is agreed to be cool. But when Stalin came to power and proclaimed the doctrine of realism, communist art stepped back and never recovered its vitality.
There’s a lot of willed historical ignorance in this mantra for slaughter that was already part of Soviet life when the Suprematists were painting their utopian dreams. Abstract propaganda was propaganda nonetheless. But what can be said in artistic defence of the realist hacks who were promoted by communism from the 1930s to the 1980s?
In the case of the Sicilian painter Renato Guttuso, quite a lot. Guttuso became a communist during the second world war, and fought in the resistance. His loyalty to the Italian