Soviet Writers’ Congress 1934 – The Debate between Modernism and Socialist Realism – Totalitarianism and The Institutionalization of Kitsch

Posted: February 12, 2019 in Uncategorized

Vladmir Tatlin
Counter Relief (1915)

The first formulation of socialist realism was made by Andrei Zhdanov in August 1934 at the first All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers. Although his speech was aimed primarily at writers, it was also applicable to the other branches of the arts. The obligations incumbent on cultural producers, whom Stalin had called upon to become ‘engineers of human souls’, included the demand that they ‘depict life faithfully’, while showing ‘reality in its revolutionary development.’ At the same time, ‘faithfulness and historical concreteness’ were to be combined with the task of ‘the ideological refashioning and education of the working people in the spirit of socialism.’

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Socialist Realism


Russian Pavilion
New York World’s Fair (1939)


Stalin Monument

1934 Soviet Congress

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