David Winton Bell Gallery

Past Exhibitions

September 6, 2008 - October 19, 2008

Views and Re-Views website

Views and Re-Views includes posters, cartoons, photomontages, and postcards spanning more than six decades, from the time of the Russian Civil War (1918–21) into the late Soviet period. The exhibition includes well-known Soviet graphic works, by such artists as Viktor Deni, Dmitri Moor, El Lissitsky, and Gustav Klutsis, as well as lesser-known, but equally compelling works by the Kukryniksy (a three-artist collaborative), Alexander Zhitomirsky, and others. Drawn from an extensive private collection of Soviet propaganda, the exhibition includes more than 160 images. 

Seventeen years after the end of the Soviet Union, Views and Re-Views invites a post-Cold War assessment of Soviet graphic arts. The exhibition suggests that artistic merit may be found in art in the service of political belief and subject to state regulation and that there is a range of stylistic diversity within work that is too often simply (and dismissively) characterized as Socialist Realism. Viewers may also note that with the passage of time it has become possible to see that not all criticisms of the West by Soviet artists are completely spurious or inauthentic."

The dualism of friends and enemies, heroes and villains is apparent throughout the exhibition, stemming both from old Russian culture and from nineteenth- and twentieth-century Marxism. Enemies were both domestic — kulaks, priests, the leaders of the old regime, including the Tsar — and foreign — the nations of the Entente (Britain, France and the United States) and the epic villains of Capitalism. And connections were manufactured between foreign to domestic enemies, ranging from the plausible (Russian capitalism was surely part of European capitalism) to the wildly implausible (Trotsky as a