Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The intimate voice of the Russian Avant-garde: adapting the aesthetic self and the rise of Socialist Realism

This proposed research uses ego-documents from visual artists that were not intended for publication to reassess the scholarly debate on the demise of the Russian Avant-garde aesthetic in the twenties and early thirties of the 20th century.

Duration
2010  -   2015
Funding
NWO-VENI NWO-VENI

This proposed research uses ego-documents from visual artists that were not intended for publication to reassess the scholarly debate on the demise of the Russian Avant-garde aesthetic in the twenties and early thirties of the 20th century. It provides an alternative perspective on the public discussions in the Russian art world that preceded and orchestrated the rise of Socialist Realism, before its official canonization in 1932. While a majority of Avant-garde artists identified with the rules of Stalinist society, and the official course of the artistic bureaucracy, they also had to come to terms with a severe loss of cultural capital. In diaries, intimate correspondence, and other autobiographical practices they created intricate private narratives to legitimize these losses - narratives that challenge reductionist approaches to the question of the demise of the Avant-garde aesthetic.

While providing new perspectives on a long standing scholarly debate, it will also bring to the fore an important body of texts from archival collections by esteemed artists like Vladimir Tatlin, El Lissitzky and Solomon Nikritin, that have passed unnoticed by western and Russian researchers alike.

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