Collective Body: Aleksandr Deineka at the Limit of Socialist Realism (Hardcover)

Collective Body: Aleksandr Deineka at the Limit of Socialist Realism By Christina Kiaer Cover Image
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 A study of the Socialist Realist aesthetic focusing on the artist Aleksandr Deineka.
Dislodging the avant-garde from its central position in the narrative of Soviet art, Collective Body presents painter Aleksandr Deineka’s haptic and corporeal version of Socialist Realist figuration as an alternate experimental aesthetic that, at its best, activates and organizes affective forces for collective ends. Christina Kiaer traces Deineka’s path from his avant-garde origins as the inventor of the proletarian body in illustrations for mass magazines after the revolution through his success as a state-sponsored painter of monumental, lyrical canvases during the Terror and beyond. In so doing, she demonstrates that Socialist Realism is best understood not as a totalitarian style but as a fiercely collective art system that organized art outside the market and formed part of the legacy of the revolutionary modernisms of the 1920s. Collective Body accounts for the way the art of the October Revolution continues to capture viewers’ imaginations by evoking the elation of collectivity, making viewers not just comprehend but truly feel socialism, and retaining the potential to inform our own art-into-life experiments within contemporary political art. Deineka figures in this study not as a singular master, in the spirit of a traditional monograph, but as a limit case of the system he inhabited and helped to create.


About the Author

Christina Kiaer is the Frances Hooper Professor in the Arts and Humanities at Northwestern University. She is the author of Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism, coauthor with Robert Bird and Zachary Cahill of Revolution Every Day: A Calendar, and coeditor with Eric Naiman of Everyday Life in Early Soviet Russia: Taking the Revolution Inside.

Praise For…

Collective Body is a tour de force: at once a history of a single artist, of Soviet art practice in the 1930s—and of Soviet culture more broadly. Kiaer writes with ease and sophistication, using brilliant close readings of artworks to illuminate her social and historical context in new ways. This is scholarship of a very high order.”
— Emma Widdis, University of Cambridge

“Aleksandr Deineka’s depiction of sensual bodies was labeled by Russian critics ‘lyrical socialist realism.’ Traversing three decades of artistic debates and realignments, Kiaer elucidates this paradoxical stylistic label and gives us a new reading of the complexities of a Soviet and Stalinist world that remains as fascinating as it is disturbing. This highly original study puts the revolutionary avant-garde and its aftermath in a new perspective.”
— Romy Golan, City University of New York

Product Details
ISBN: 9780226827162
ISBN-10: 022682716X
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: March 19th, 2024
Pages: 360
Language: English