‘We need to mobilise the masses to progress fast. Art is the most powerful means of political propaganda’ (Lenin).
In supporting the art being made by the Russian Avant-Garde, Lenin imbued it with political power. Revolution: New Art for a New World is a new feature documentary that encapsulates a momentous period in the history of Russia and the Russian Avant-Garde. It tells a story of art and politics intertwined, of how the revolutionary politics of the time supported and encouraged an artistic movement that it would eventually destroy.
Margy Kinmonth, the film’s director, draws on the collections of major Russian institutions, contributions from contemporary artists, curators and performers and personal testimony from descendants of Russian artists involved in the revolution.
With much art of the Avant-Garde tucked away in stores and archives, with little on show in Russian galleries and museums, Kinmonth aims to give viewers, not just an idea of the unique power of creativity at the time, but also an impression of the artists and their stories.
The stories of artists like Chagall, Kandinsky and Malevich, pioneers who flourished in response to the challenge of building a new art for a new world. Aware of the work of these artists before watching the documentary I had little understanding of the significance they hold in Russia’s history. We see in this documentary not just the way in which these artists flourished but also the way in which they would come to be silenced by Stalin and his Socialist Realism.
The subject of this documentary is so rich and so vast that it cannot fail to fascinate. However for this same reason, it can only go so far to do the subject justice. It left me desperate to learn more about Russia’s history and its art. It is a great introduction to a captivating and intriguing topic, and is well worth watching.
Showing at HOME Thursday 10th November.