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date: 05 December 2019

Socialist Realism [Rus. Sotsialisticheskiy Realizm]locked

  • David Elliott
  •  and Piotr Juszkiewicz

Extract

[Rus. Sotsialisticheskiy Realizm]

Term used to describe the idealization of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the arts, apparently first used in the Soviet journal Literaturnaya Gazeta on 25 May 1932. After the cultural pluralism of the 1920s in the Soviet Union, and in line with the objectives of the Five-year plans, art was subordinated to the needs and dictates of the Communist Party. In 1932, following four years of ideological struggle and polemic among different artistic groups, the Central Committee of the party disbanded all existing artistic organizations and set up in their place party-led unions for individual art forms. In the summer of 1934, at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, Socialist Realism was proclaimed the approved method for Soviet artists in all media. Andrey Zhdanov, who gave the keynote address at the Congress, was Stalin’s mouthpiece on cultural policy until his death in 1948. In the words of his leader, the artist was to be ‘an engineer of the human soul’. The aim of the new creative method was ‘to depict reality in its revolutionary development’; no further guidelines concerning style or subject-matter were laid down. Accordingly, the idea of what constituted Socialist Realism evolved negatively out of a series of cultural purges orchestrated by Zhdanov in the pages of ...

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