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Socialist Realism

  Socialist Realism was a doctrine first approved at the Congress of Socialist Writers in 1934, at the instigation of Stalin. Until then, Soviet artists had been allowed to associate political radicalism with artistic revolution. However, after Stalin\'s rise to power the Soviet régime developed a dislike of ‘bourgeois’ avant-gardism, and replaced it with the idea of Socialist Realism. This stated that the role of the artist was to serve the people by producing positive, upbeat and accessible works of art. The social function of art was to elevate and educate. Experimentation, negativism and an adherence to ‘bourgeois values’ were forbidden. In the name of this doctrine, some appalling rubbish was hailed (and lavishly rewarded) as art, and some creators of the highest ability, from Mayakovsky to Shostakovich, from Malevich to Pasternak, were vilified. In the former USSR, the writer A.A. Zhdanov was made commissar in charge of creativity—a position which gave him power over patronage, and a stranglehold on artistic innovation, which persisted in the country\'s artistic life well into the 1980s.

Socialist Realism is not the same thing as social realism. KMcL

Further reading C.V. James, Soviet Socialist Realism: Origins and Aims.



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