Soviet Realist paintings on view at Fairfield University's Thomas J. Walsh Gallery

Image: Soviet ArtA unique exhibition, "Realism: the spirit of Soviet Art, 1932-1980," will be on display in Fairfield University's Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery from Saturday, April 1, to July 17. An opening reception will take place in the gallery on April 1 from 6 to 8 p.m. during which Dr. Firouzeh Mostashari of Regis College in Weston, Mass., will discuss the Spirit of Soviet Culture from 1932 to 1980.

This will be a rare opportunity to view more than 35 works of the "official" Soviet art of the 20th century which portrays the everyday life of the common people and which was designed to inspire workers to labor harder for the success of Communism. Soviet art examined its own cultural aspirations as effectively as any school of art in history, and these museum-quality paintings remain unprejudiced by many of the fragmenting tenets of western modernism. Due to a particular alignment of social, political, idealistic and artistic circumstances, the Soviet art produced from 1930 to 1980 became the best realist school of the period and perhaps the century. In a socialist society the worker was the hero of the perfected state and the artists' close relationships with the common people allowed them to develop a realistic working class genre.

In the West during this time, the modern graphic arts movement constrained American artists into product-driven nostalgic portrayals of the past. By contrast, the Soviet realists enjoyed a particular sort of freedom resulting from continued emphasis on fine art, process and realistic human conditions of contemporary life.

Western critics have long accused the Soviet art of this era as being simply political propaganda, portraying unrealistic, even utopian appearances. However, as Russian art scholar Matthew Bown has stated, "The nature of a regime, no matter how reprehensible, does not dictate our response to the art produced under its aegis." True art means to transcend the dogma, ideology or spirit with which it was created and thus speaks to all ages. The Western prejudice against Soviet influence must be abandoned in order to recognize the artistic variation and merit in Soviet-era realist art.

The Thomas J. Walsh Art Gallery is located in the Quick Center for the Arts. Viewing hours are Tuesdays to Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. For information call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2969.

This exhibit will continue at Regis College's Carney Gallery in Weston, Mass., from Oct. 27 to Dec. 17, 2000. For information regarding the Regis exhibit, call Anne Souza at (781) 768-7034.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647,

Posted on March 15, 2000

Vol. 32, No. 135

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