CIHA 2016 in Beijing

34th World Congress of Art History

About History Press Release Sessions Schedule Activities Participants Venue Discussion Registration Closed


GERIN, Annie
The Rise and Fall of Early Soviet Satirical Art: Context and Historiography

Session 2 The Rank of Art

Université du Québec à Montréa


This paper aims to address the value given to early Soviet satirical art and the shift in its perceived significance in relation to political and cultural changes that occurred within the Soviet Union during the late 1920s and early 1930s.

It is a little known fact that in the period that spans from the October Revolution to the early 1930s, satirical art was not only recognised and acclaimed by critics and the public alike, but also valued by the government for its specific rhetorical potential as an indispensable genre of revolutionary art. Indeed, along with the arts of the avant-garde and different shades of realism, it was commissioned, produced, exhibited and theorised by leading artists (Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Lyubov Popova, etc.) and theorists (Anatoly Lunacharsky, Osip Brik, etc.). Yet, in the 1930s, satire in the arts became less present.

This paper opens with a discussion of Anatoly Lunacharsky’s conception of Soviet laughter that served the establishment of Soviet satirical arts as a valued practice in the 1920s and 1930s. It continues with an assessment of the reasons and arguments that motivated a reversal and the eventual marginalisation of Soviet satire. 

GERIN, Annie 

Annie Gérin is professor of art history at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) in Canada. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of RACAR, the journal of the University Art Association of Canada (UAAC). Educated in Canada, Russia and the UK, her research interests encompass the areas of Soviet art, Canadian public art, and art on the World Wide Web. She is especially concerned with art encountered by non-specialized publics, outside the gallery space. Her curatorial work includes Picturing Regina: 100 Years Later (2004), Godless at the Workbench (2004-2005), Perambulations: Art of Motion and the Streets of Ottawa (2006) and Le chant du Fer: Hommage à Jordi Bonet (2011). Her publications include Godless at the Workbench: Soviet Humoristic Antireligious Propaganda (2004) and the edited collections Canadian Cultural Poesis (2006), Public Art in Canada: Critical Perspectives (2009), Œuvres à la rue: Pratiques et discours émergents en art public (2010) and Formes urbaines: Circulation, stockage et transmission de l’expression culturelle à Montréal (2014)She is currently working on a book manuscript that centers on the history and theorization of early satirical art in Soviet Russia (1920s and 1930s).