industrialism and soviet realism

Les Schaffer schaffer at SPAMoptonline.net
Tue Dec 19 16:58:16 MST 2000


The following is an exchange i had with Doyle off list on the art
forms Soviet Realism and "Industrialism". Perhaps someone here has
stuff to add to discussion.

les schaffer

===========
Doyle:

while visiting a web site to download some code, i was struck by the
artwork on the pages of the site:

http://www.activestate.com/Corporate/About_ActiveState/Website_Design.html

and somehow it reminds me of Soviet Realism, though its obviously
soemthing different, at least according to the claims on the page.

but is there a relationship between this "Industrialism" and soviet
realism, as perhaps a reactionary response?

===== from Doyle

Hi Les,
    I think your question is something that Lou could answer much better
than me.

[snip]

I am guessing there is a relationship between the two.  Perhaps as a
reactionary response in the sense that the style used in the website has
nothing much to do with the social conditions that gave rise to Soviet
Realism.  I think the reactionary side of the Soviet Realism is related to
many factors, being isolated from the world economy due to the siege of the
Soviets, the emphasis upon realism in most work seems to me about the
methods of production also.

A lot of Soviet work is photographic in nature.  There was in the very early
periods the general impression that easel painting was reactionary compared
to the more modern media.  I think that rejection of painting was also a
reaction to modernism in Europe which would have seemed anti-materialist in
its movement away for photo like realism.  The intelligibility of modernist
work was difficult for a non specialist to grasp.  Especially Cubism looked
chaotic.

Photographic processes seemed realistic, and would have neatly fit the
materialist point of view of the Soviets.  That doesn't mean to me that
easel painting was devoid of interest, but the form of realism that
predominated, movies and photography had many advantages over what painting
did, and this must have shaped how well people would have to say what they
wanted to say through painting.

I think that is about as far as I can take this thread of reasoning about
Soviet Realism.

Perhaps this would be a good question to forward to the list to bring up
more discussion (hopefully Lou or others).  I might under those circumstance
talk technically about what I think one can do with realism now which might
give some insights into the past.  They couldn't have used what we know now,
but it might help to better understand the debate between realism and
modernism.
Doyle






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