Royal Academy London: The Russians – ‘Revolution’. The Americans – ‘After the Fall’ Compare and contrast two completely different political systems. Discuss!

Russia and America: same era. Compare and contrast two completely different political systems. Russians Americans Collectivism Individualism

Well done the Royal Academy for bringing these exhibitions together at the same time. Russians Americans Collectivism Individualism.

A fantastic opportunity to compare and contrast not only the art but also the political, social and economic situation and circumstances of 2 completely different countries. Both in the same era -1917 to the 1940s.

Russians Americans Collectivism Individualism

The distinct impression gained from the Russians is one of promised utopia but soon to come repression, economic failure, rigid state control and collectivism. A total destruction of freedom.

The loss of individual identity.

The American depression of the 1930s saw the state intervening as best it could with FDR’sThe New Deal’ yet no state control of the community, of individuals. The freedom (if you could call it that) was there for you to plough your own furrow. You survived or starved by your own actions.

In both countries we see severe economic depression yet beyond that – two different worlds.

Russians Americans Collectivism Individualism

Kazimir Malevich’s ‘Black Square’.

Russians Americans Collectivism Individualism
Kazimir Malevich ‘The Black Square’

Considered to be one of the most important and significant works of the early 20th Century. But supressed in favour of state controlled works and propaganda such as ‘Social Realism’. Artists worked as the state dictated.

In contrast is Jackson Pollock’s ‘Untitled 1938′.

Russians Americans Collecttivism Individualism
Jackson Pollock ‘Untitled 1938’

A forerunner of Abstract Expressionism. Artists with freedom to express as individuals within a free society.

Then take Malevich’s ‘Woman with a Rake’

Malevich ‘Woman with a Rake’ 1930

… alongside Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ 1930.

Grant Wood ‘American Gothic’

 

 

 

 

 

 

The former – a complete loss of identity. The woman could be anyone. She’s just an anonymous figure drawn from a collective mass.

Wood’s two figures are in complete contrast. Here we have undeniable identities, with obvious expressions. We can clearly relate to these two people. They are certainly individuals and are recognised as such.

Russians Americans Collectivism Individualism

Finally though Edward Hopper’s ‘New York Movie’ 1939. The freedom of society. Life in the city and jobs for women to work on their own. Loneliness, vulnerability, economic self-reliance.

Edward Hopper ‘New York Movie’

 

 

 

 

 

Compare this to Grant Wood’s heroic ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ 1931.
Grant Wood ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ 1931
Loneliness … individual heroism.

The Royal Academy London: Revolution Russian Art

The Royal Academy London: America After the Fall