Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 will take place in the Royal Academy's Main Galleries from 11 February until 17 April 2017.
John Milner is former Co-director of the Cambridge Courtauld Russian Art Centre. Natalia Murray is a Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art. Other contributors include: Faina Balakhovskaya, John Bowlt, Masha Chlenova, Ian Christie, Christina Lodder, Nicoletta Misler, Natalia Murray, Nick Murray, Evgenia Petrova, Zelfira Tregulova.
This nuanced exhibition captures the changing senses of hope, confusion and despair that characterised art at this time: it is a fascinating interrogation of the relationship between art and politics, and a serious indictment of the dangers of disrupting the balance.--Francesca Wade "Studio International " So much of the art on display is not just beautiful, but essential....What you're watching unfold across these walls is more than just art, it's the death of hope. The revolution started with a belief in the power of change and excitement for the future. That was slowly crushed under the weight of civil war, famine and oppression. This, right here, is art losing its beauty and becoming a tool of the state.--Eddy Frankel "Time Out London " This is a hugely ambitious show with loans obtained from Russia that you will never have seen and many that you will not see again.--Karen Wright "The Independent " Incorporating painting, sculpture, architecture, filmmaking, ceramics and popular ephemera, it offers a highly informative, brilliantly comprehensive, and cautionary case study of how art and politics can interact in an age of increasingly authoritarian rule.--Mary Tompkins Lewis "The Wall Street Journal " "Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932," a groundbreaking exhibition of over 200 works...explores the deeply political contexts that shaped Russian art of every aesthetic stripe in the rapidly changing period between the rise of the Bolsheviks at the Russian Revolution's outset and Joseph Stalin's brutal crackdown of 1932.--Mary Tompkins Lewis "The Wall Street Journal " But this is no display of communist propaganda. What makes Revolution such a momentous, even historic exhibition is that it brings together all of the art from that period. Not just the Soviet dross - socialist realist utopias, hymns to mechanisation and films of peasants waiting gratefully for the arrival of the first steam train - but the art of the avant garde too. It is the first time we have been able to see the art of the Revolution whole.--Laura Cumming "The Guardian " The standard Western view of post-revolution Russian art is binary: the bold abstraction of the suprematists and constructivists of the early years (good) versus the leaden figuration of Stalinist socialist realism (bad). But this show explores the nuances and complexities between them, as artists competed aggressively to emblematise the brave new Soviet world.--Ben Luke "The Evening Standard " We leave the exhibition shuddering at the thought that, once again, we live in unpredictable times, dominated by leaders with autocratic tendencies in both East and West. This is history made resonant and relevant.--Alastair Sooke "The Telegraph " By juxtaposing a huge number of works (from an impressively wide range of media), which express both approaches, the exhibition provides an intriguing and rare insight into the dialogue between art and politics, the individual and the state, freedom of expression and the pull of ideology.--Francesca Wade "Studio International " This encapsulates a certain period in Russia that you just don't get from textbooks. There's nothing more powerful than the artist painting what's going on in the world around him and the fact that artists are seen to be as powerful as soldiers, with their paintbrush using a visual type of propaganda, especially when most of the population were illiterate. It's through the visual arts that a message is passed.--Estelle Lovat "Euronews " Revolution's three curators do a marvellous job of marshalling their material, presenting the history of the early Soviet era in a lucid and compelling fashion. Stylishly designed, the show proceeds with verve, and has a lovely flow. It also contains several mesmerising works of art.--Alastair Sooke "The Telegraph " The Royal Academy exhibition explores both the cutting-edge abstract art that Stalin repressed and the socialist realism that he championed, presenting the works together, some for the first time in the UK, to showcase what the museum calls "both the idealistic aspirations and the harsh reality of the Revolution and its aftermath.--Shaunacy Ferro "mental_floss " The exhibition features Avant-Garde artists such as Chagall, Kandinsky, Malevich and Tatlin alongside the Socialist Realism of Brodsky, Deineka, Mukhina and Samokhvalov, amongst others. It presents this unique period in the history of Russian art, when for fifteen years, barriers were opened and the possibilities for building a new proletarian art for the new Soviet State were extensive.--Artfix Daily