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In the Olympic spirit: Soviet sport beyond the ideological labels

After a successful show in London, prepared with the participation of the auction house Sotheby's, the exhibition "Soviet Art. Soviet Sport" opens in Moscow at two venues at once: GUM and the Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA). The IRRA is a private project that revives the social traditions of Russian patronage. Its present collection is considered one of the finest representations of the national realistic school of the twentieth century. // Viktor E. Popkov (1932-1974), At the Weekend. 1958

Property of the artist's family

After a successful show in London, prepared with the participation of the auction house Sotheby's, the exhibition "Soviet Art. Soviet Sport" opens in Moscow at two venues at once: GUM and the Institute of Russian Realist Art (IRRA). The IRRA is a private project that revives the social traditions of Russian patronage. Its present collection is considered one of the finest representations of the national realistic school of the twentieth century. // Viktor E. Popkov (1932-1974), At the Weekend. 1958
"The 'SOVIET ART. SOVIET SPORT' exhibition is a unique project that presents a period of art which is unfamiliar, yet highly significant. 2014 has been declared the year of British culture in Russia, and the project will undoubtedly contribute to the development of relations between our two countries," Lord Mark Poltimore, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe. // Viktor E. Popkov (1932-1974), Volleyball. 196

Institute of Russian Realist Art

"The 'SOVIET ART. SOVIET SPORT' exhibition is a unique project that presents a period of art which is unfamiliar, yet highly significant. 2014 has been declared the year of British culture in Russia, and the project will undoubtedly contribute to the development of relations between our two countries," Lord Mark Poltimore, deputy chairman of Sotheby's Europe. // Viktor E. Popkov (1932-1974), Volleyball. 196
With tens of thousands of items, the body of works on the theme of Soviet sport is vast. The pieces on display at the IRRA's exhibition are representative of the diverse creative heritage of Soviet artists. Sport is one of the key brands of the Soviet era. // Vladimir A. Kutilin (born 1931), Waverunner, 1959

Institute of Russian Realist Art

With tens of thousands of items, the body of works on the theme of Soviet sport is vast. The pieces on display at the IRRA's exhibition are representative of the diverse creative heritage of Soviet artists. Sport is one of the key brands of the Soviet era. // Vladimir A. Kutilin (born 1931), Waverunner, 1959
In common with other symbols, such as industrialization, space, and ballet, sport often found itself in captivity to ideology. From the viewpoint of eternity, having their services commandeered for the "struggle" may have hurt the artists who "fought" on the frontline. But that is what created an aesthetic canon of such pathos and impact. // Boris F. Domashnikov (1924-2003), The Stadium. 1970s

Institute of Russian Realist Art

In common with other symbols, such as industrialization, space, and ballet, sport often found itself in captivity to ideology. From the viewpoint of eternity, having their services commandeered for the "struggle" may have hurt the artists who "fought" on the frontline. But that is what created an aesthetic canon of such pathos and impact. // Boris F. Domashnikov (1924-2003), The Stadium. 1970s
In 1925, the USSR issued a decree that made sports education a compulsory element of ideological upbringing. In 1931, the "RTW" (ready for work and defense) standards were adopted, under which every Soviet citizen aged from 10 to 60 had to be able to perform a series of physical exercises. Tests were carried out annually, on which basis metal badges were awarded. The system operated successfully for 60 years right until 1991. // Olga P. Vaulina (1902-1996), Wrestling 1930s

The 'New Gallery' Art Foundation

In 1925, the USSR issued a decree that made sports education a compulsory element of ideological upbringing. In 1931, the "RTW" (ready for work and defense) standards were adopted, under which every Soviet citizen aged from 10 to 60 had to be able to perform a series of physical exercises. Tests were carried out annually, on which basis metal badges were awarded. The system operated successfully for 60 years right until 1991. // Olga P. Vaulina (1902-1996), Wrestling 1930s
Olga Vaulina casts the issue of masculinity and femininity in a new light. The composition of the painting recalls Pablo Picasso's famous canvas "Girl on the Ball" (1905). However, in the foreground is a female figure, clearly imbued with far more power and strength than the scrawny man in the background. Perhaps Vaulina was addressing a question of a more fundamental nature. Sport is a common cause, open to all, in which the line between power and beauty becomes relative. // Olga P. Vaulina (1902-1996), In a sports hall. 1930s

The 'New Gallery' Art Foundation

Olga Vaulina casts the issue of masculinity and femininity in a new light. The composition of the painting recalls Pablo Picasso's famous canvas "Girl on the Ball" (1905). However, in the foreground is a female figure, clearly imbued with far more power and strength than the scrawny man in the background. Perhaps Vaulina was addressing a question of a more fundamental nature. Sport is a common cause, open to all, in which the line between power and beauty becomes relative. // Olga P. Vaulina (1902-1996), In a sports hall. 1930s
Sergey Luchishkin found fame as both a painter and a set designer for film and theater. Luchishkin was the art director for Grigory Alexandrov's movie "Circus" (1936), starring Lyubov Orlova. Theatricality and stageability come to the fore in the bright, cheerful, and extremely dynamic picture "Parade at the Dynamo Stadium." // Sergey A. Luchishkin (1902-1989), Parade at the Dynamo Stadium. 1936-1976

Institute of Russian Realist Art

Sergey Luchishkin found fame as both a painter and a set designer for film and theater. Luchishkin was the art director for Grigory Alexandrov's movie "Circus" (1936), starring Lyubov Orlova. Theatricality and stageability come to the fore in the bright, cheerful, and extremely dynamic picture "Parade at the Dynamo Stadium." // Sergey A. Luchishkin (1902-1989), Parade at the Dynamo Stadium. 1936-1976
Alexander Deyneka was always attracted by the expressiveness of monumental forms, as well as anatomical plasticity and dynamic angles. These qualities define this sketch for the 1951 work "Female bather." The drawing is executed in the artist's characteristic poster style. The triumph of youth and health, embodied in the models, correspond to the ideals of Soviet femininity. A new Soviet Madonna reveals herself to us: the strong-willed face, the trained hands, the powerful yet feminine figure. // Alexander A. Deyneka (1899-1969), Sports woman tying a ribbon. 1950s

Institute of Russian Realist Art

Alexander Deyneka was always attracted by the expressiveness of monumental forms, as well as anatomical plasticity and dynamic angles. These qualities define this sketch for the 1951 work "Female bather." The drawing is executed in the artist's characteristic poster style. The triumph of youth and health, embodied in the models, correspond to the ideals of Soviet femininity. A new Soviet Madonna reveals herself to us: the strong-willed face, the trained hands, the powerful yet feminine figure. // Alexander A. Deyneka (1899-1969), Sports woman tying a ribbon. 1950s
As one of the school's brightest talents, Alexander Deyneka elucidated the attraction of sport for artists: "Sport has one outstanding feature: it fits into a wide variety of artistic frames. As a theme, it is inexhaustible, for it is democratic and popular. Sport accommodates different nuances and shades of feeling. It is lyrical, in a major key. It harbors great optimism and the beginning of the heroic." // Andrey N. Bliok (born 1946), Festival of the North in Kirovsk. 1972

Institute of Russian Realist Art

As one of the school's brightest talents, Alexander Deyneka elucidated the attraction of sport for artists: "Sport has one outstanding feature: it fits into a wide variety of artistic frames. As a theme, it is inexhaustible, for it is democratic and popular. Sport accommodates different nuances and shades of feeling. It is lyrical, in a major key. It harbors great optimism and the beginning of the heroic." // Andrey N. Bliok (born 1946), Festival of the North in Kirovsk. 1972
The sporting theme gave artists a whole host of opportunities for self-expression: from the sincere and apologetic 'one true' Soviet art to attempts to counter this style. Today, we have a chance to look at the issue from a different angle. When the art was finally taken abroad (to London no less, the epicentre of contemporary art), it suddenly became clear how interesting and opulent it was beyond the ideological labels and stamps. // Mikhail N. Izotov (born 1956), Gymnasts. Portrait of Vladimir Artemov and Yury Korolyov, 1987

Institute of Russian Realist Art

The sporting theme gave artists a whole host of opportunities for self-expression: from the sincere and apologetic 'one true' Soviet art to attempts to counter this style. Today, we have a chance to look at the issue from a different angle. When the art was finally taken abroad (to London no less, the epicentre of contemporary art), it suddenly became clear how interesting and opulent it was beyond the ideological labels and stamps. // Mikhail N. Izotov (born 1956), Gymnasts. Portrait of Vladimir Artemov and Yury Korolyov, 1987
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28 January, 2014
Tags: Art, ussr

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