revoliutsiia! demonstratisiia! soviet art put to the test | the art institute of chicago | 29 october 2017 > 15 january 2018
the october revolution of 1917 changed the course of world history; it also turned russia into a showcase filled with models. every object and sphere of activity had to demonstrate how society could be remade according to revolutionary principles. it would take intensive experimentation and discussion to determine the shape of this unprecedented society. to be realized in any concrete way, communism had to be modeled and put on display.
revoliutsiia! demonstratisiia! soviet art put to the test accordingly fills regenstein hall with ten model displays from the early soviet era. each of these sections holds rare works of art and features expert, life-size reconstructions of early soviet display objects or spaces, commissioned especially for this exhibition.
it’s well documented that the russian art scene, beginning c 1895 and leading up to a 1917 communist revolution, was an avante garde, graphically primed, and prolific force. movements included neo-primitivism, rayonism, cubofuturism, italian futurism, and the first abstract constructivist and suprematist paintings. artists included mikhail larionov, natalia goncharova, aristarkh lentulov, lyubov popova, olga rozanova, el lissitzky, vladmir tatlin, kazimir malevich, alexander rodchenko, wassily kandinsky. kandinsky would later join the bauhaus design faculty, as well as hungarian artist lászló moholy-nagy who was inspired by the constructivists.
artists were asked to remake society according to revolutionary principles – to find new answers to old questions.
the revolution not only incited a political / social movement, but also inspired two monumental design genres – russian contructivism and in 1919, weimar, germany, the founding of the bauhaus. constructivism would dominate the graphic messaging for the revolution. constructivism would also evolve into an iconic bauhaus style.
the art institute of chicago presents ten displays containing nearly 550 works, the largest exhibition of soviet art to take place in the united states in 25 years. visitors have the opportunity to explore the trajectory of early soviet art in all its forms and consider what it tells us about socially minded art now.