The Total Art Of Stalinism : Avant Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, And Beyond

1508 Words Nov 16th, 2014 7 Pages
Boris Groys. The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond. Translated by Charles Rougle. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992. 126 pp., $13.49 (paper).

The Total Art of Stalinism is not only a historical book on art, but it is also a political provocation of the well-known histories of 20th century Soviet art and literature. Originally published in German, this book was the first major work of Groys to have been translated into English. This book gives insight to scholars and artists alike about the history of art during and after the Stalin regime. The thesis of this book is that the avant-garde developed into socialist realism, demonstrating this with history of Soviet art, the role played by Stalin, and the avant-garde. Upon the completion of this book, the reader is given a fuller understanding on topics such as: was Socialist Realism the ultimate recognition of the failed avant-garde project, and were Soviet politics an aesthetic occurrence? Boris Groys does a great job suggesting the necessity for reexamining our thoughts regarding Russian modernism. In the first paragraph of chapter one, Groys begins by ascertaining that the basic spirit of the avant-garde was “the demand that art move from representing to transforming the world” (14). This initial statement gives the reader a glimpse of the book’s main thesis, that the avant-garde was responsible for shaping Socialist Realism art by way of its own failure. Groys…

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