Russification / Sovietization in Culture and Society

von by Ada Raev Original aufOriginal in German, angezeigt aufdisplayed in English
PublishedErschienen: 2022-12-05
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    In both the Russian tsarist empire and the Soviet Union, art and culture shaped society's self-image. After the victory over Napoleon, architecture and the fine arts contributed significantly to the construction of what was "Russian." In the course of Alexander II's reforms, new, middle-class patrons competed with the tsar's house and nobility and with institutions such as the academy of arts over forms of representation regarding the Russian-dominated national identity. Artists' visual presentations were brought to the public, among other things, through exhibitions. After 1917, followers of "production art" in particular conceived the sovietization of the country as a comprehensive modernization, before the notion of sovietization was tied to the doctrine of Socialist Realism.

    InhaltsverzeichnisTable of Contents


    The following discussion is based on methodologically diverse literature from the fields of history, history of ideas, history of art, and cultural history. With reference to the survey article "Russification / Sovietization" by Theodore R. Weeks (born 1959), it primarily deals with the russification of the ethnic themselves or sovietization in connection with the formation of an overarching national identity. The focus is on forms of cultural russification and sovietization that were often linked to administrative measures. It should be said in advance that images in a predominantly Christian-Orthodox society traditionally enjoyed high moral prestige as "heirs" to the icon. (Visual) art and culture, above all, thus played a role in russification and sovietization processes that is not to be underestimated. At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that, in addition to many architects and artists, the tsars and Bolshevik leaders themselves did not all have Russian roots. To reinforce their acceptance of, or loyalty to, their new place of activity, foreigners working in the tsardom were given Russian names, including patronymic surnames uncommon elsewhere, from the 18th century on. Even princesses by marriage from European royal and princely houses had to convert to Orthodoxy and adopt Russian names. To understand the developments in architecture and fine arts in the Russian Empire of the 19th century and in the , which were accompanied by various transfer processes, it is helpful to take a look at the artifacts of earlier history. Such material was repeatedly used as identity-forming references relating to nationally minded ways of thinking. Here, the relationship of Russia to Europe in the epoch of the tsarist empire but also to the newly acquired territories assumed great importance.


    Architecture and the visual arts developed in the Middle Ages in along with the formation of nation states and were accompanied by pan-European exchange processes. Even beyond 1453, Byzantine culture continued to form the predominant frame of reference for the Kievan Rus' in the 11th centuryKarte der Kiewer Rus IMG and later sub-principalities, as well as for the Muscovite empire which had been expanding since the 14th century. This influence can be observed in sacred architecture and the icon tradition. Moreover, under Ivan IV (1530–1584) decorative elements of the culture of the defeated "Golden Horde" were integrated into the traditional repertoire of forms. Saint Basil's CathedralBasilius-Kathedrale IMG (properly called: Cathedral of the Intercession of the Most Holy Theotokos on the Moat,), erected in 1561 as a token of gratitude and to memorialize the capture of and , is exemplary in this regard. As the embodiment of ancient Russian architecture, it became a reference point for the construction of the "Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood" initiated by Alexander III (1854–1894), a staunch advocate of russification. The consecration of the church, built in 1883–1912 to designs by Alfred Parland (1842–1919) in a neoclassical setting in to commemorate the assassination of Alexander II (1818–1881), was tantamount to a symbolic reconquest of "European" space by "Russian" culture. Meanwhile, Orthodox churches were built throughout the Russian Empire, including in 1891–1894 at Birky near , where Alexander III had survived a train accident in 1888. Others were constructed in (demolished 1924–1926), , , and . Stylistically, they featured the Russian-Byzantine or Moscow-Yaroslavl style of the 17th century to bolster the affiliation of the non-Russian territories to the Russian Empire. In the , a total of more than 200 Orthodox churches were built in the national Russian style.1

    As early as in the 17th century under the Romanov dynasty, a limited reception of Western cultural forms took place in Russia, which were significantly mediated by Polish and actors. Evidence is found in the "parsuni", the early form of Russian modern portraiture.2 These and other examples may be viewed along with the historian Vasily Kliuchevsky (1841–1911) as a symptom of the skepticism towards the modern self-image: "A hasty movement forward and a reflection backward with a frightened look - this is how one might characterize the cultural course of the Russian society of the 17th century."3

    Against the resistance of the old power elite, the boyars, Peter I (1672–1725) ushered in a decisive paradigm shift toward the Europeanization of the Russian empire. With the founding of the new capital St Petersburg in 1703 and its expedited development from 1712 onward (resulting from complex cultural transfer processes that went beyond a single country or culture), this project emerged in the "light" of the Enlightenment. Yet broad circles of Russian society perceived this transformation as extreme.4 The dichotomy between the new and the old capital remained part of a fundamental disagreement about Russia's positioning in the European context into the modern era. It is no coincidence that the Cathedral of the Dormition (1475–1479)Mariä-Entschlafens-Kathedrale in Moskau IMG, itself the epitome of everything Russian, retained its function as the coronation cathedral of the Russian tsars until the revolution of 1917.

    Elizabeth I (1709–1762) and Catherine II (1729–1796)[J. Miller, Catherine II, Czarine of Russia, Kupferstich, Datum unbekannt. Quelle:  Wellcome Library, London, Slide number 6170,, Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC-BY 4.0,] already saw fit to selectively incorporate elements understood as "Russian" into the now Western European-oriented representation of the tsardom's power and culture. These include the use of the Byzantine cross-in-square design in church construction by Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli (1700–1771), e.g. the Cathedral of Resurrection of the Savior in the Smolny Convent (1748–1761, completed in 1835 by Vasily Stasov (1769–1848)) and also in St Andrew's Church in (1748–1767).5 The fact that Catherine II did not simply appear at masquerades in garments with Russian elements was also of symbolic importance. It further contributed to the emergence of portraits in traditional costume ("Portrait of Tsarina Catherine II in Russian Costume" by Stefano Torelli (1712–1784), ca. 1780, Moscow, Historical Museum).6 Nicholas I (1796–1855) transformed this practice into an elaborate dress code in 1834 to demonstrate the ruling house's connection to the Russian peopleFranz Krüger  (1797–1857), Portrait of Alexandra Feodorovna (Charlotte of Prussia), Öl auf Leinwand, 1836.

    Within the context of Sentimentalism, the Russian peasantry came to embody the "natural man", which would prove to be consequential for the future russification of culture. Peasants found their way into the nascent genre painting and costume portraiture. Thus, the painting "The Marriage Contract" (1777, Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery) by painter Mikhail Shibanov (died after 1789), who was trained on the tradition, is nevertheless largely based on the local setting, in this case the . The 1784 painting "Portrait of a Woman in Russian Costume" (Moscow, Tretyakov Gallery) by Ivan Argunov (1729–1802), a serf of Count Boris Sheremetev (1713–1788), was followed by countless portraits of noble ladies posing in costumes modeled on the sarafan. The mostly Old Believer, traditional Russian merchants were anyway well known for their elaborate traditional festive garments.

    The struggle against Napoleon (1769-1829), known in Russian as the "Patriotic War," gave rise to a patriotic surge in the multiethnic state, which was accompanied by a genre-spanning revaluation and idealization of everything "Russian" in art and culture. The focus was again on the peasantry, whose sons had to bear the brunt of the war as soldiers. The lyrical paintings of Aleksey Venetsianov (1780–1847), who had retired from state service in 1819, became a model. When Venetsianov's works were shown to great acclaim in St Petersburg in 1824, they also impressed the later Tsar Nicholas I, who had a preference for "national styles". Venetsianov's appointment as a court artist allowed him to establish a painting school in Safonkovo near and thus pass on his ideas of Russian culture focusing on rural life.7 As late as the First World War, the St Petersburg-born painter Zinaida Serebryakova (1884–1967) invoked Venetsianov's idealized view of the peasantry in paintings such as "Harvest" (1915, Odesa, Art Museum), while monumentalizing the figures in the spirit of neo-classicism.

    Russian motifs also became increasingly popular in porcelain, which was highly prized in the tsarist empire. Thus, the 1809-1816 Empire-style Gurievsky service made for Alexander I (1777–1825) by the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory of St Petersburg was originally called "Service with depictions of Russian costumes" and "Russian service." Replicas of individual pieces made manifest its significance as a "hymn of praise to the Russian people, a glorification of the victorious multinational Russian Empire."8 Shortly thereafter, Stepan Pimenov (1784–1833) produced elegant statuettes of Russian boys and girls such as the "Water Bearer" and the "Girl with Jug" (both 1817–1820). Starting in the 1820s, private manufactories like the Moscow Gardner Manufactory, the Popov Manufactory, and the Kornilov Manufactory ensured the continued proliferation of such figures. The humorous character of all the coachmen, butchers, pirogi sellers or maids offering a cross-section of Russian society began to take its inspiration from the illustrations of popular magazines such as Volshebnyĭ fonar. In the 1840s, the Imperial Porcelain Manufactory issued the series "Craftsmen and Peddlers in St Petersburg" based on designs by Karl Petrovich Beggrov (1799–1875), attesting to how different actors competed for interpretive sovereignty over what it meant to be "Russian."

    Selected cultural russification projects

    In the 1830s, Moscow emerged as the center of a national movement whose actions Boris Groys (born 1947) has called the "invention of Russia".9 The rise of Slavophile thought and the imposition of Count Sergey Uvarov's (1786–1855) formula of "Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality" as a state ideology promoted the study and appreciation of pre-Petrine Russian history and the collection and display of Russian antiquities. The most influential historians of this trend included Mikhail Pogodin (1800–1875), Konstantin Aksakov (1817–1860), and Nikolay Kostomarov (1817–1885). In 1856, Pogodin was given an ornamental wooden house – the "Iz'ba" (cottage), in the center of Moscow – as a gift from the entrepreneur, banker and collector Vasily Kokorev (1817–1889). The house served as a meeting place for like-minded people and as a repository for his collectionsPogodins "Iz'ba", Moskau IMG. The artist, archaeologist and historian Fedor Solntsev (1801-1892), who came from a serf family, also made a notable contribution to the documentation, collection and artistic interpretation of Russian antiquities. He was instrumental in the publication of the multi-volume edition of Drevnosti Rossijskogo gosudarstva (1849–1853). Private and state museum foundations in the Russian Empire promoted russification. The Imperial Russian Historical MuseumStaatliches Historisches Museum, Moskau IMG was officially opened on 27 May 1883, the day of Alexander III's coronation. By no coincidence, the historicist brick building designed by Vladimir Shervud (1832–1897) was located on the northwest side of Red Square in the immediate vicinity of the Moscow Kremlin and evoked 17th-century architectural forms.

    In the course of the restoration and expansion of the Moscow Kremlin and the neighboring district of , the Russian style was incorporated in various forms. Contributions were made by internationally trained architects such as Ivan Mironovsky (1774–1860), Mikhail Bykovsky (1801–1885) and Konstantin Ton (1794–1881), among others.10 Osip Ivanovich Bove (1784–1834), for example, furnished the Nikolsky Tower of the KremlinNikolausturm, Moskau after 1812 with neo-Gothic forms adopted from , which were also seen as historically significant forms in the Russian context. In this process, different stylistic systems were combined, for example, when in the Ivanov Monastery (1861–1879) forms of the Italian Renaissance were mixed with stylistic touches of the Byzantine period. The most prominent building in the Russian-Byzantine style, which was established as the official style of the Russian Empire and the Orthodox Church, is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow (1830–1883, rebuilt in 2000)Christ-Erlöser-Kathedrale in Moskau, Farbphotographie, 2007, Photograph: Voytek S; Bildquelle: Wikimedia Commons,  Creative Commons-Lizenz Namensnennung-Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 2.5 US-amerikanisch (nicht portiert).

    Beginning in 1869, the Old Believer merchant and museum founder Pavel Tretyakov (1832–1898) established a portrait gallery of important figures as part of his collection of Russian art,11 which he donated to the city of Moscow in 1892. It functions as a national gallery alongside the Museum of Alexander III in St Petersburg (now the State Russian Museum), which was established in 1898 by Nicholas II (1868–1918). The idea of making national history tangible through portraits gained international relevance at the beginning of the 19th century. This was already evident in the Military Gallery of the Winter Palace in St Petersburg, which opened in 1826. In the vein of the book On Heroes And Hero Worship And The Heroic In History (1846) by Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881), Pavel Tret'yakov focused on contemporaries who had made a contribution to Russia in culture and art. He commissioned from members of the The Wanderers founded in 1870, such as Vasily Perov (1833–1882), Ivan Kramskoy (1837–1887), Nikolay Ge (1831–1894) and others, portraits of poets, writers and scholars, composers, musicians, painters, actors, historians as well as doctors and lawyers. Fedor Dostoevsky (1821–1881), Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910) or Nikolay Nekrasov (1821–1878) are portrayed as intensely contemplative and concerned men, with a restrained use of color underscoring the modest air of many portraits. In the 1880s, Ilya Repin (1844–1930) introduced expressivity into the subjects' poses and used color to convey a modern personality. One example is the portrait of Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881), the composer of the opera "Boris Godunov", which premiered in 1874. While Tretyakov did not consider people of his standing suitable for painting, he integrated portrait studies of peasants, forest guards, beggars, fools, and pilgrims into his gallery. This approach is based, on the one hand, on the humanist idea of the value of the human personality independent of class. On the other hand, it articulates the growing feeling in post-reform Russia of the elites' "complicity" in the misery of broad segments of the Russian population, which had been exacerbated by the abolition of serfdom. Some figures of the Russian intelligentsia, such as Leo Tolstoy or the critic Vladimir Stasov (1824–1906), who strongly advocated for a national Russian art, also articulated their sense of morality by occasionally wearing peasant clothes themselves or imitative "Russian shirts".

    The russification of society was both accompanied and promoted by history painting, specifically by artists from the milieu of The Wanderers.12 Just as they drew attention in genre paintings to the catastrophic living conditions in the countryside in post-Reformation Russia, they focused in history paintings – unlike the academic canon – on moments of crisis in Russian history. By not presenting heroes, the audience was to be encouraged to form their own opinions about the historical role of the images' protagonists. For example, Nikolai Ge staged a psychological drama between father and son with the painting "Peter the Great Interrogating the Tsarevich Alexei Petrovich" (1871, St Petersburg, Tretyakov Gallery). He chose to situate it in the Dutch-style Monplaisir Palace in PeterhofSchloss Monplaisir in Peterhof, St. Petersburg IMG, a location that was still being built at the time of the fictional painting's storyline. Despite his physical weakness, Alexei, Peter's son from his first marriage, who sympathizes with the opposition, appears as a morally equal opponent of the reform Tsar. Vasily Surikov (1848–1916), on the other hand, focused in his painting "Boyarina Morozova" (1887)  on the external drama. The theme dating from the time of the schism in the 17th century was perceived by the public as an allusion to the tense situation in the country in the aftermath of the assassination of Alexander II in 1881.

    In the search for national traditions, legends and fairy tales gained increasing prominence throughout Europe. In Russia, the collections of Russian folk tales by Aleksandr Afanasev (1826–1871), published in multi-volume editions in Moscow in 1855-1863 and 1873, as well as the fairy tales of Aleksandr Pushkin (1799–1837) and oral traditions captured the imagination of artists and viewers alike.13 The paintings of Viktor Vasnetsov (1848-1926), including "Alyonushka" (1881), "Sirin and Alkonost" (1896), and "The Bogatyrs" (1898), all held by the Tretyakov Gallery, proved especially popular. Like Vasnetsov, Elena Polenova (1850–1898) also worked in the artists' colony near , which the railroad magnate Savva Mamontov (1841–1918) had founded together with his wife. There, religious piety led to the combination of social-reform projects with a cultivation and revival of Russian traditions. Elena Polenova provided designs with fairy-tale motifs for the cabinetmaking workshop she led. In addition, Polenova, and later Ivan Bilibin (1876–1942) and Sergey Malyutin (1859–1937) with their book illustrationsIvan Bilibin, Märchen vom König Saltan 1905 influenced by the English and German Art Nouveau style, contributed to the creation of figures, apart from the warriors, that were deeply rooted in the Russian consciousness and became popular in the West as well. These included Baba Yaga, Ivan the Fool, the Beautiful Vasilisa, and especially the FirebirdIvan Bilibin, Ivan und der Feuervogel,1930.

    Landscape painting proved to be a powerful agent of cultural russification. From the 1860s onward, many artists turned to their native natural surroundings despite, or precisely because of, their experiences abroad. Using the means of plein air painting and later Impressionism, they explored the character of vast plains, endless pathways, large and small rivers at different times of the day and year.14 Ivan Shishkin (1832–1898), who had studied at the Kunstakademie in created epic imaginings of the Russian forest and rolling cornfields saturated with light. Aleksey Savrasov (1830–1897) in contrast made the unspectacular Russian provinces suitable for painting. Later, many landscape paintings with churches and chapels, with tented roofs or onion domes visible in the distance pointed to Orthodoxy as an important element of Russian culture. Younger painters took a more lyrical and joyful approach. In the painting "Moscow Courtyard" by Vasily Polenov (1844–1927), which exists in several versions, the rural mercantile district flooded by bright sunlight with well-trodden paths in the center of the modernizing city appears as a peaceful, serene place replete with its own kind of poetry. In the "mood landscapes" of the Jewish painter Isaak Levitan (1860–1900) like "Golden Autumn" (1895) or "Above the Eternal Rest" (1894) Russia shows many guises, from exuberant joy to profound melancholy. Konstantin Korovin (1861–1939) paid homage to rural Russia in decorative landscape fantasies like "Northern Idyll" (1892) or in paintings with subdued colors like "Winter" (1894). Aristarkh Lentulov (1882–1943), a member of the artist group "Knave of Diamonds," in turn celebrated the singularity of (ancient) Russian architecture in large and colorful Cubo-Futuristic architectural landscapes. But through the fragmentation of the forms he also hinted at their vulnerability in times of war.Aristarch Lentulov, Moskau IMG This work was counterbalanced by the stylized city and park landscapes of St Petersburg created after 1900 by the group of artists known as the "World of Art" (Mir iskusstva), comprising Mstislav Dobuzhinsky (1875–1957), Yevgeny Lanceray (1875–1946) and the graphic artist Anna Ostroumova-Lebedeva (1871–1955). Notwithstanding their artistic quality and reference to the golden age of St Petersburg around 1800, they ultimately remained a peripheral phenomenon for the Russian self-image.15

    Strategies and selected cultural sovietization projects

    Cultural sovietization, which was an ongoing process from 1917 alongside and in interaction with political sovietization, aimed at the creation of a "New Man" and socialized ways of life rooted in an anti-bourgeois class consciousness. The "New Man" was supposed to subordinate his personal needs to collective concerns and to place himself unconditionally at the service of the developing society, which was based on the legally enshrined equality of men and women.16 The ideals of cultural sovietization as a form of comprehensive modernization, which included literacy and urbanization, went hand in hand with the planned electrification and industrialization. They were also applied, at least in part, to the Central Asian regions, which had only become part of the Russian Empire in the last third of the 19th century and were now being divided into new republics.17 In the hands of the Soviet press, photography proved to be an effective means of propaganda, especially in the new Soviet republics. This is illustrated by the example of the photographer Maks Penson (1893–1959), who worked in Tashkent.18 After the Second World War, cultural sovietization was extended to the , but was met with little enthusiasm there.

    In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the Bolsheviks depended on collaboration with artists who had not been part of the tsarist art system. Despite their partly bourgeois origins, many "leftist" artists, i.e.the pre-revolutionary "Futurists," professed the idea of building a new, modern and socially more just society. Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893–1930) wrote his "An Order to the Army of Arts" on December 7, 1918, which states: "The streets are our brushes, the squares are our palettes!"19 Vladimir Tatlin (1885–1953), author of the famous model for the unrealized "Monument to the III International" (1919–1920)Monument der III. Internationale, 1920, also put himself at the service of the Soviet power early on. Under the umbrella of the People's Commissariat for Education (NARKOMPROS) – a kind of super-ministry in matters of education, science, and culture, headed by Anatoly Lunacharsky (1875–1933) – the Department of Fine Arts (IZO) was approved in the summer of 1918, with sub-departments being led by "leftist" artists. Alexander Rodchenko (1891–1956) and Olga Rozanova (1886–1918) worked in the Arts and Crafts department, Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935)[Kazimir Malevich (1878–1935), Black Square, ca. 1923] in the Art construction department, and Nadezhda Udaltsova (1885–1961) in the Theater and Cinema department. Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944) and then Rodchenko headed the Museum Bureau, which purchased works by avant-garde artists and distributed them to various museums around the country. In the following years, there were various bureaucratic restructurings, a relic of the Tsarist system.20

    Among the first cultural measures was the implementation of the decree "On Monuments to the Republic" issued on April 12, 1918. It ordered that monuments to tsarist dignitaries be replaced by those to revolutionary activists and their historical predecessors, in part by temporary monuments due to lack of material. In addition, the masses were to be aroused to the ideas of the revolution with festive decorations, mass stagings and demonstrations on the occasion of revolutionary holidays,21 and with painted propaganda trains and ships traveling throughout the country. The "propaganda porcelain" (plates, cups and porcelain figurines) designed by artists of different orientations and nationalities was also intended to promote the new society in text and image.22 Later, constructivist-designed workers' clubs and houses of culture served as multifunctional venues for cultural activities in the Soviet spirit. Apart from film as a modern technical medium, prominent standing in cultural sovietization was also given to theater, following Vsevolod Meyerhold's (1874–1940) proclamation of the "theatrical October" in 1920.23

    Competing groups of artists – ranging from the Constructivists, who formed in 1921, to the "AChRR" (Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia), which was founded in 1922 – aimed at the cultural sovietization of the country.24 Members of the latter, in narratives drawing on a mechanistic concept of representation and 19th-century realism, adopted themes such as the everyday life of the Red Army, peasants, revolutionaries, and labor heroes. The group "OST " (Society of Easel Painters), founded in 1925, took on an intermediate position. Its members remained committed to painting, but equated sovietization with modernization, industrialization, and urbanity in their paintings. Due to the ideological circumstances, which included the increasing discrediting of bourgeois art, both traditional and avant-garde, numerous cultural figures decided to emigrate, including Alexandre Benois (1870–1960), Marc Chagall (1887–1985), Alexandra Exter (1882–1949), Naum Gabo (1890–1977), Wassily Kandinsky or Jean Pougni (1892–1956).25

    The Constructivists – besides Rodchenko there was also Aleksandr Vesnin (1883–1959), Varvara Stepanova (1894–1958)Lyubov Popova (1889–1924), and others – emphasized innovative visual structures developed from abstraction, but also slogans, photomontage, and photography. They associated the concept of so-called  Productivist art, which also included theater, with the hope that a modern ideologically active environment would change the consciousness of the masses in line with the desired socialist changes. Toward this end, they followed theorists like Osip Brik (1888–1945), Alexei Gan (1893–1942) and Nikolay Tarabukin (1889–1956). The result was a programmatic turn to mass culture forms such as posters, book and magazine design, and the design of fabrics, clothing, and everyday objects.26 The materialized conceptions of sovietization gained international appeal, for example, through Rodchenko's famous Workers' Club, shown in Paris in 1925, the contribution of El Lissitzky (Lazar M Lissitzky, 1890–1941) to the "Pressa" in Cologne in 1928, through multilingual magazines such as Vešč' – Gegenstand – Objet (1922) and SSSR na stroike (The USSR in Contsruction)(founded in 1930), or even through postcards.

    Cultural sovietization entered its Stalinist phase in 1932 with the dissolution of all existing artists' groups, which were to be replaced by unified artists' associations of the individual artistic disciplines.27 Under the charge of formalism, the avant-garde was gradually expunged from the collective memory. While their works languished in museum repositories for decades, their creators retreated, experienced persecution or annihilation such as natives Gustav Klutsis (1895–1938) and Aleksandr Drevin (1889–1938). Others chose to adapt to the new circumstances. In 1934, at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers in Moscow, "Socialist Realism" was elevated by Andrey Zhdanov (1896–1948) to a universally valid artistic method. The demand was for a truthful, historically concrete portrayal of reality in its revolutionary development, henceforth in the context of the maxim of "building socialism in one country." The "Gesamtkunstwerk Stalin," the expression coined by Boris Groys for the culture of the Stalin time,28 had many facets. Along with portraits of Joseph Stalin (1878–1953) BILD:Stalin-Denkmal in Prag 1955–1962, which present him as a tireless worker and benevolent commander with humane characteristics, there was a demand for typified images of "new heroes," i.e. workers and peasantsSowjetischer Pavillon auf der Pariser Weltausstellung 1937 IMG, soldiers, and members of the Soviet intelligentsia. They likewise inhabit figure-laden, increasingly euphemistic depictions of industrial and agricultural production, and of demonstrations, parades, conventions, and communal leisure activities. Especially in the years of the Great Terror, when the new Soviet bureaucracy had established itself with a certain claim to luxury, luminous images evoked Stalin's famous dictum of 1935: "Life is better now, comrades. Life is happier life now."29 Works in this spirit include "The New Moscow" (1937) by Yuri Pimenov (1903–1977) or "Stakhanov(Best) Worker" (1937, Perm Art Gallery) by Aleksandr Deyneka (1899–1969). Depictions of sport, such as by Aleksandr Samokhvalov (1894–1971), not only propagated education in discipline and collectivism as social values, but also provided an opportunity to showcase the sensuality of the female body, which had been neglected in the early Soviet Union. During the Second World War, the focus was on mobilizing Soviet fighting spirit and assurance of victory. This was achieved, for example, by referencing historical figures, as in the triptych "Alexander Nevsky" by Pavel Korin (1892–1967) painted in 1942. By contrast, the depiction of suffering and defeat remained taboo until the 1960s. In the final years of the Stalin era, official art was dominated by a whitewashing of reality. It was not until the emergence of the "strict style" in the period of the "Thaw," e.g. in pictures such as "The Builders of Bratsk" (1960) by Viktor Popkov (1932–1974) or the sequence "The Traces of War" (1963–1965) by Gely Korzhev (1925–2012), that the artistic assumptions of "Socialist Realism" were relativized – although the doctrine was not abandoned until the end of the Soviet Union. The Soviet concept of realism met with particular reservations in the Baltic countries, prompting them to withdraw from it. A critical view of the Soviet system and its impact on people's daily lives developed in the unofficial art scene of Moscow and . In , Igor Savitsky (1915–1984) assembled a unique collection of avant-garde works by Russian and Uzbek artists, which are exhibited in at the Art Museum of the .


    The policies of russification and sovietization were each accompanied by extensive cultural activities that radiated throughout the country from the centers of Moscow and St Petersburg/Leningrad. Paintings, sculpture, the applied arts, and the mass media contributed to this, alongside administrative measures and targeted building activity. While cultural russification and sovietization had a lasting impact in Russian-speaking areas, their resonance was limited in non-Russian regions. Today, different strategies can be observed with regard to the architectural and artistic legacies of the Russian empire and the Soviet Union in the now independent post-Soviet states. In addition to practices aimed at erasing Russian-Soviet traces, such as the renaming of museums in Ukraine, critical and reflective tendencies can be observed elsewhere. In Latvia, for instance, the former building of the Latvian Academy of SciencesLettische Akademie der Wissenschaften in Riga in , constructed in the 1950s, is now being promoted as a tourist attraction.

    Ada Raev



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    1. ^ Allenow / Dmitriewa / Medvedkowa, Russische Kunst 1992, on the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, see Klotchkov, Orte des "Russischen" 2007, pp. 95–107, on other Russian Orthodox churches in the Russian Empire: Wortman, Scenarios of Power 2000.
    2. ^ Staatliches Russisches Museum: Das russische historische Porträt 2004 (Государственный Исторический Музей: Русский исторический портрет 2004), vgl. auch: Bryusova, Russkaja živopis 1984 (Брюсева, Русская живопись 1984).
    3. ^ Cited and translated accord. to: Ključevskij, Kurs russkoj istorii 1957, vol. 3, p. 357 (Ключевский, Курс русской истории 1957, т. III, c. 357. Cited and translated accord. to: Ključevskij, Kurs russkoj istorii 1957, vol. 3, p. 357 (Ключевский, Курс русской истории 1957, т. III, c. 357.
    4. ^ Schlögel, Sankt Petersburg 2007.
    5. ^ Shvidkovsky, Russian Architecture and the West 2007.
    6. ^ Reineking von Bock, Prunkvolles Zarenreich 1996, pp. 179, 285.
    7. ^ Leonteva, Venetsianov 1980, cf. also Alekseeva, Shkola Venetsianova 1982.
    8. ^ Agarkowa, Lomonossow Porzellanmanufaktur 1994, cf. also: Klemp, Fragile 2008, p. 40.
    9. ^ Groys, Die Erfindung Rußlands 1995.
    10. ^ On the different phases of the Russian style cf: Kiritschenko, Zwischen Byzanz und Moskau 1991.
    11. ^ Cf. in detail: Raev, Die Porträtgalerie bedeutender Zeitgenossen von Pavel Tret’jakov 2012.
    12. ^ Cf. Nesterova, Die Wanderer 1995, auch Lang, Das heilige Rußland, Berlin 2003.
    13. ^ Cf. Wageman, Russian Legends 2007.
    14. ^ Cf. Jackson, Russian Landscape 2003 and Ingold, Russische Wege 2007.
    15. ^ Cf. Bowlt, Moskau & St. Petersburg 2008.
    16. ^ Cf. Tetzner, Der kollektive Gott2013.
    17. ^ Cf. Baldauf, Tradition, Revolution, Adaptation 2007.
    18. ^ Cf. Galeev, Max Penson 2011.
    19. ^ Cited in: Majakowskij, Aus vollem Halse 1946, p. 22.
    20. ^ Cf. Wolter, Die große Utopie 1992.
    21. ^ Cf. Rolf, Das sowjetische Massenfest 2006.
    22. ^ Cf. Klemp, Fragile 2008.
    23. ^ Cf. Rudnitzky, Russian & Soviet Theatre 1988.
    24. ^ Cf. Gaßner / Gillen, Zwischen Revolutionskunst und Sozialistischem Realismus 1979.
    25. ^ Cf. Tolstoi, Künstler der russischen Emigration 2005. (Толстой, Художники русской эмиграции 2005.)
    26. ^ Cf. Hornbostel, Mit voller Kraft 2001.
    27. ^ Cf. Gassner, Agitation zum Glück 1994.
    28. ^ Cf. Groys, Gesamtkunstwerk Stalin 1995.
    29. ^ Formulation from Stalin's speech at the First All-Union Conference of Stakhanovites on Nov. 17, 1935, quoted from Gassner, Agitation zum Glück 1994, p. 45. Extensive visual material and reflections on the various phases of Socialist Realism can also be found in: Groys, Traumfabrik Kommunismus 2003.

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