As with art in Western Europe and later in America, trends shifted in Russian art from Realism to a study of how the eye actually interprets reality. Brushwork grew more pronounced, palettes lightened, and shapes and forms were rendered as naturally perceived in a glancing moment, resulting in Russia's own interpretation of Impressionism. The glorious expansive landscape of Russia, not unlike our own varied American landscape, drew Russian artists out of the studio into the country, creating plein air painting similar to that of the Western European and American Impressionists.
Impressionism was not unknown to artists in Russia. As early as the 1880s, renowned art collectors Sergei Shukin and Ivan Morozov brought Impressionist masterpieces to Russia laying the foundation for what would become an extensive collection of great value to the nation. In pre-Revolutionary Russia travel for celebrated Russian artists and those deemed to have great potential exposed them to the most recent French techniques, while visitors to Russia brought with them stories of artistic trends in Western Europe.
Unlike French and American Impressionism, however, Soviet painting was never strictly about aesthetics, it remains inseparable from the political and social environment in which it was created. Though the artists of this period did paint to serve the goals of the State, the soul and spirit of the individual was not lost in the process. Numerous heartfelt studies and paintings were completed to serve the universal purpose of putting individual creativity and interpretation to canvas. Through these paintings we learn a great deal about the history of a nation and its people.
Selections from the Soviet Realism collection may be viewed from three perspectives in this gallery: political genre, government impact, and artist. You can design your own tour by selecting the categories that interest you.
Academic training and the goal of creating works that appealed to and communicated with the masses created an environment suitable for narrative and genre painting. Universal themes and story lines appeared. Paintings of contemporary life drew the public in great numbers to Union exhibitions and served their purpose in advancing Soviet nationalism and pride. The following themes were prevalent among the paintings of Soviet Realism. Click on any to view a selection of corresponding thematic paintings.
The following areas have been selected for comparison of American and Russian Impressionism. Click on any of the topics to obtain a brief analysis.
Anikeev, Mikhail K.
Belykh, Alexi Pavelovich
Kazakevich, Nikolai K.
Lomakin, Oleg Leonidovich
Markin, Vitalie A.
Markov, Pavel Geogievich
Mosin, Evgeni N.
Nechayeva, Valentina A.
Rebane, Erik I.
Rotnitski, Semon Aronovich
Shmelyov, Dmitri Ivanovich
Shurupov, Konstantin A.