Moscow Department of Culture
Private view for the media: 15 December 19.00-21.00
Curators: Andrey Parshikov, Vera Trakhtenberg
Organizer: MEA Manege
The Manege team will be finishing the year 2015 with a large-scale summary project exploring the years of history of the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman monument. The exhibition will also lay the contours of a new permanent exposition.
The sculptural group “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” is considered the opus magnum of sculptor Vera Mukhina. Its creation was not only an artistic event, but also a political landmark, the manifesto of Soviet grand style, and the greatest advance of the monumental art of the pre-war period. The Worker and Kolkhoz Woman is one of the brightest examples of an artistic synthesis, in which sculpture and architecture emerge as a single whole knitted tightly by the consistent repeating patterns of proportions and volumes. The idea of the sculpture was conceived by architect Boris Iofan who won in a competition for pavilion construction. The sculpture portrays the masters of the Soviet land, labor class and collective farming, as two figures raising high the Soviet emblem, the sickle and hammer. Iofan found inspiration in the classical sculpture known as the Tyrannicides portraying Harmodius and Aristogeiton standing up together, and in the unstoppable dynamism of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace. Thus, the key reference of Soviet realism goes down to the classical sculptural tradition.
Originally created by Vera Mukhina and Boris Iofan in 1937 for the World Exhibition in Paris and recognized as a symbol of the Soviet monumental propaganda, the sculpture later lived on through the years of its history in the Soviet Union. It was brought to decorate the northern entrance of VDNKh and stood there for many years, suffering from physical and moral wear. The ideological content was gradually degraded by the new art of the 1960s, when Socialist realism gave way to “Soviet Pop Art”, or Sots Art, which was critical of the official Soviet art, with its totalitarian grotesque and mythology. The new artistic language aimed to destroy the stereotypes of the past and to pull down the system of Soviet official art by uncovering and bringing to the surface its actual aim and purpose, i.e., political propaganda.
In 2009, the monument was restored and reinstalled on top of the pavilion rebuilt to the project of Boris Iofan. In the meantime, the art of the 2000s once again came to address the cultural codes of the past, aiming to find the place of the Soviet monuments in the history of art and society. Stripped of their ideological relevance, the objects of the Soviet material culture became the prototypes of art that relied on a new artistic language, which allowed for archaeologization of not only forms, but also ideas and notions of the Soviet past.
The exhibition will feature archive materials, original objects belonging to the collections of MEA Manege dating back to the period when the monument was created, Soviet sculptures of the 1930s, elements of the original internal carcass of the sculpture, including its original part weighing up to 500 kg, and objects of contemporary art, including photography, paintings, graphics, sculpture and video.
Andrey Parshikov and Vera Trakhtenberg, curators:
“We are inviting the audience to delve into the history of creation of the iconic monument and to discover how the monument has lived through the years of its history, how the public responded to its installation in the city, and the metamorphoses it has gone through, how it has been addressed in art and what is happening to it now. We would like to highlight the influence it has projected on Russian art and culture.”
Irina Tolpina, General Director of the Manege Association:
“All four storeys of the exhibition space will be occupied by this large-scale project, which involved the whole team of the Manege Association working on it. The exposition “Worker and Kokhoz Woman. Personal Case” is, first and foremost, the story of the major Soviet sculpture, and of the times it happened to exist in, and of the people whom it wouldn’t leave indifferent.”
Art Group ZIP
FNO Art Group
Vladimir Dubossarsky & Alexander Vinogradov
Yuri Shabelnikov together with Yuri Khorovski
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