All About Art : Soviet Style

If there are two things the city of Lugansk out in the eastern part of Ukraine is best known for, it would be scammy marriage tourism and being the most Soviet city in country.  I know.  Not the most inviting of labels. Still, every place has got to have something, and for a city that was once known as Voroshilovgrad, Lugansk definitely rocks what it's got!

All mail-order brides aside, living in a place that still celebrates its glory days with the U.S.S.R has been incredibly interesting, and has especially made me grateful that I paid attention when we read "Animal Farm" in high school.  I mean, there's nothing that gets you in the mood to celebrate the working-class proletariat like hundreds of strategically placed hammer and sickles and few dozen statues of Lenin around town:



From about the 1930s until the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, artists were almost all state-employed and were expected to produce propaganda-driven artwork that celebrated the valor of hard work, ennobled the common people, and glorified that classic idea of the motherland.  

The Soviet (or Socialiast) Realism style--highly realistic and overly muscular men and women overcoming struggles and performing great feats in work, sports, and education--is the artwork we're perhaps best familiar with from this time.  You should really see the stuff that's painted inside of my gym!


But there are some classic examples around town of the lesser known Soviet murals that are a bit Egyptian-esque (profile faces with full-front bodies) in their celebrations of the common hero.  One of our university buildings has a great one dedicated to the plight of learning (with a little help from the words of Lenin) and hard work on the path to a diploma:


And this one on a sports complex downtown.  From the Russian words I know, I could actually make out that this says something to the effect of "We make (win) the record (prize) for our beloved motherland."  Oh, Soviets:


Nine months here in Lugansk has definitely given me a new appreciation for all things Soviet, especially the art.  And what about all those mail order brides?  Well, that's a whole other blog post...