The State and Cultural Change

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  • The State and Cultural Change
    • Proletkult and the Avant-Garde, 1917 - 1929
      • Following revolution new forms of art flourished, debate around what communist art should mean.
      • Some argued socialist society should be dominated by proletariat culture
      • Proletkult allowed culture to grow through local studios, 84,000 members
      • Lenin argued culture was universal, not classed, should learn from previous art, rejected modern futurism and Proletkult
      • Art should be opportunistic and taught through education, Lenin dislike Proletkult and therefore cut funding, merged with education that taught traditional art
      • Lenin believed art could be used to gain support, agitprop was used as propaganda often used avant garde art
      • Revolutionary cinema and photography celebrated and supported communist achievements
      • Film was used to show workers daily life, share revolutionary messages
      • Art under the NEP; relative artistic freedom, at end of war freedom limited, people could not understand avant garde so it was scrapped, worried of western influence so harsh restrictions, celebrated communism instead
      • Art was free and experimental, but with time it was replaced with traditional art in fear of western influence
    • Socialist Realism, 1930 - 1953
      • Stalin had strong views on art, believed art should reflect government priorities, dislike experimental art
      • Socialist realism was 'genuinely revolutionary' was new traditionalism
      • Socialist realism was hard to define; contained a 'true reflection of society', aimed to participate 'in the building of socialism'. Looked a lot like photographs, new style built around industrial action.
      • Under Stalin art was made in familiar fashion with targets, sent to farms and industrial centres to paint. However there was a purge of artists
      • Stalin wanted music to be more heroic and rousing and could be sung by ordinary people.
      • Many artists dissented by focusing on Lenin's achievements instead of Stalin's
      • Art was no exception from Stalin's control, the conformity in art was stifling but widely understandable and traditional
    • Thaw and Non-conformity, 1954 - 1964
      • Khrushchev cultural policy went through many thaws and freezes, due to the contradiction in policy
        • Khrushchev wanted to forge an alliance with creative intellectuals, coming from university,believed they should help grow socialism, and government should liberate artists, however citizens were not ready for full freedom and this could undermine regime
      • Khrushchev soviet culture experienced thaws as; Stalins death, Secret Speech, Removal of Stalins body. Ideas from west like classical music reintroduced, however a freeze happened because of too much artistic expression
      • In spite of thaws government still challenged non conformity
      • Khrushchev changed propaganda by encouraging popular oversight, also recognised inefficiency
      • Khrushchev went to great lengths to ensure women were conformed, female promiscuity was countered by rejection of western clothing and consumer goods, the rejection of loose women were campaigned
        • Women who were sleeping with foreign men had hair shaved and sent to virgin land farms
      • clothing was still organised, 'how women should dress', western clothing associated with wastefulness, decadence, yet never addressed desire for soviet fashion, 1/2 clothes were never sold as unfashionable
        • trade increased, magazines available on black market
      • In 70's and 80's propaganda still tried to ridicule the west, however this failed and fashion hunters won and pop culture
        • artists who refused to submit to government control were sent to psychiatric institutes (bad conditions)
    • Clashes between artists and the government to 1985
      • International pressure led to releases, immigration, psychiatric institituions
      • Wary of social liberalism, many authors were sent to labour camps
      • Under Brezhnev there were 3 types of artists and intellectuals; obedient functionaries, loyal oppositionists, dissidents
      • Brezhnev idealised conservative art like ballet
      • Prague Spring; hardening attitude of Brezhnev to, responded with force and army to resistance,
        • Official reaction to underground arts scene was inconsistent, sometimes interfering, raided by police in 1985
        • Under Brezhnev art became backward looking, unable to stamp out underground art or dissident artists
      • Brezhnev was less willing to allow criticism of Stalin, he was less interested in art, but valued it. Brezhnev art was nostalgic


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