Revolutionary Russia Art Association 1922-32
The Revolutionary Russia Art Association, or AKhRR – the most vigorous artistic union of the 1920s in the Soviet Russia, which existed from 1922 to 1932. It absorbed different artists – from N. Kasatkin, A. Rylov, and M. Grekov to A. Lentulov, A. Kuprin, and P. Konchalovsky. In addition, AKhRR – the most numerous group, which already in 1927 had forty branches in different cities of Soviet Union. Finally, it found a clear political orientation. AKhRR path can be considered as the search for a common language between the artists and the mass audience, which, according to Lunacharsky, was necessary to find in the works of contemporary artists “clear to the maximum language, the presence of deep feelings, the desire to penetrate the inner world of people, and first of all in the vanguard of people, in its Communist party. ”
The association emerged in March 1922, after the opening of the 47th exhibition of the Wanderers in Moscow. Initially, it had another name – “Artists Association for the Study of the revolutionary way of life.” In the name itself was the a desire to show the truthfulness, accuracy of the image, the continuity Peredvizhniki traditions. Its leaders immediately defined their political orientation. They wrote a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, in which stated directly about the desire to serve the party.
The answer was brief: Artists were sent to the plants to study the life of the workers. For eleven days after the formation of the group on 16 March 1922, the artists received credentials of plants “Dynamo” and “Electrosila”. The next step was to conquer the position – the connection with Glavpolitprosvet headed by Nadezhda Krupskaya.
Krupskaya was negative about finding the left, even reproached Lunacharsky in excessive liberality to them. Art, necessary for the revolution, was seen only realistic. Therefore, the group pointedly contrasting itself to avant-garde, summoned her (Nadezhda Krupskaya) explicit approval. Formed association received official recognition and the opportunity to really show what it was capable of.
Mobility, enthusiasm for the ideas of the time, direct contact with the workers contributed to the opening of the first exhibition after a month and a half after the formation of the association – May 1, 1922. It was charitable: all fees intended to help the starving. The exhibition, not only subjectively, but also financially was addressed to the people. It showed that the tradition of Wanderers were alive, easel painting was necessary, understandable and interesting to the viewer. Their masterfully executed works exposed realists of different generations. This generally occurs infrequently at charity events.
At exhibitions of Revolutionary Russia Art Association exhibited mainly paintings on everyday topics. This period in the life of the association is characteristic in the famous painting of V. Cheptsov “Meeting of the rural Communist cell.” It is reliable and simple-minded. The author refers to the use of local color, helping to authentically convey the physicality, true interior objects and characters. The artist managed to give emotional, acute psychological characteristics. In terms of importance this modest in size product is among the highest achievements of the genre.
So, at the first stage of association the artists embody heroic as the ordinary, because it is perceived and understood by human-scale. During this period the Association showed that it found the most suitable type of easel painting – small genre painting, thoroughly reflecting Soviet reality with accuracy record.
The main controversy among the artists of Revolutionary Russia Art Association until 1925 was conducted from abstractionists, but then moved into other areas, as many groups in the mid-20s turned to realism, to the search for a new framework in the picture. The debate broke out over how to understand the realism. These disputes were, in fact, the struggle for the strengthening and expansion of their own positions.
The mastering and practical development of the Wanderers heritage affected the portrait genre as well. Throughout its existence AKhRR developed a psychological profile – a typical example of this – a portrait of “A. V. Grigoriev, Chairman of AKhRR”, by S. Malyutin. This type prevailed only in the first stage. Gradually, among artists formed a kind of canon of creating images of leaders and statesmen. There are indispensable attributes, such as a table, behind which sat the portrayed. The specificity of painting dictated austerity of color asceticism and stingy selection of details. But by the mid-1920s there was a shift from a psychological portrait to a portrait-type, which was particularly prevalent in the 1930s.
By the mid 1920-ies, the genre of artists of AKhRR enters romantic theme. The most prominent representative of this trend was the battle scenes by M. Grekov. His famous painting “Tachanka” is simultaneously romantic and documented.
By the second period of the AKhRR, the association has grown enormously. An extensive network of branches did not contribute to the unity of the artistic quest. The association was attended by representatives of other groups, a variety of creative individuals. Constantly there were internal disputes about the nature of realism.
Artists of other associations complained that AKhRR has too many orders, to compete with such a great organization is becoming increasingly difficult. In 1928 the magazine “Revolution and Culture” published “Letter of Four” in which artists of other groups appealed to the Party Central Committee with a request to resolve a situation in which one single AKhRR uses material goods (orders, economic base), and the moral credit of state. And, as the artist wrote, it can not be justified by cultural and artistic level and achievements of AKhRR.
But the Revolutionary Russia Art Association continued to operate. In 1928 it published another declaration, where the term “documentary” in art was replaced by “Artful”. Declaration for the first time formulated the thesis about “the unity of form and content”, understood as the content of the story. The popularity of the Revolutionary Russia Art Association grew. The quantity of viewers of its exhibitions was exceptional: only in Moscow on the opening days the audience reached up to nine thousand people, and the total number of visitors exceeded one hundred thousand. It is the only association which exhibitions attended the Soviet government. The tenth exhibition was visited by members of the Politburo of the CPSU (b) in full – the before unprecedented case.
But although everything contributed to the optimism, the second half of the existence of association took place in disputes with other groups and members who did not agree with the basic settings. All organizational and administrative difficulties affected, of course, and exhibition activities: if during the first seven years the association artists have organized ten exhibitions, over the past four – only one. Striving for a leading position in the artistic life becomes the main activity.
The new declaration called for a more metaphorical embodiment, abstract, romanticized images. It is this focus that sounded in the middle of the 20s, and began to dominate. An example is the painting by Gerasimov “V. Lenin on the tribune.” Figure of Lenin raised high above the monolithic crowd. Violently waving banners emphasize striving forward, according to the dynamics of the composition. In this work, there was nothing from the intimate trust intonation that sounded in the portraits of Brodsky mid 20s.
The Revolutionary Russia Art Association
Gradually, the painting of artists of Revolutionary Russia Art Association increasingly penetrate the elements of eclecticism, it acquires the features inherent in the poster, applied art and decorative panels. Ceremonial, unreasonably large canvases are specifically designed for grand exhibitions and parades.
But his main task Revolutionary Russia Art Association fulfilled. Artists were able to respond to the social order of the state. Subject picture through AKhRR established itself as an integral part of visual culture. After the creation of a single Union of Artists of the USSR in 1932, AKHRR artists, mainly its main core, had a major impact on the further development of Soviet art.
Young artist magazine, 11-1988
All Union exhibition of artists, illustrated album
Painting, Sculpture, Graphics 1972 illustrated book