Monumental Propaganda. Part 1

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Monumental Propaganda. Part 1
Monumental Propaganda. Part 1
Video: Monumental Propaganda. Part 1
Video: A Monument as an Argument: Early Russian Monumental Propaganda 2023, February

Monumental propaganda. Part 1

At the World Exhibition in Paris, held on the eve of World War II in 1937, the famous sculpture "Worker and Collective Farm Woman" by V. Mukhina hovered over the Soviet pavilion. Each of the pavilions carried the country's ideological symbols, expressed in grandiose, monumental propaganda.

At the World Exhibition in Paris, held on the eve of World War II in 1937, the exhibition pavilion of the Soviet Union was located directly opposite the pavilion of Nazi Germany, the tower of which was crowned with an eagle and a swastika. The famous sculpture "Worker and Collective Farm Woman" by V. Mukhina soared above the Soviet one. Each of the pavilions carried the country's ideological symbols, expressed in monumental propaganda.


The idea of ​​the plan for monumental propaganda belonged to Lenin and was taken from the utopian work of T. Campanella "City of the Sun". Lenin was impressed by the description of the decoration of the city walls with frescoes, which "serve as a visual lesson for young people in natural science, history, excite civic feelings - in a word, participate in the education and upbringing of new generations." Consequently, according to the plan of Vladimir Ilyich, monumental propaganda was designed to carry out educational and pedagogical functions.

The implementation of the plan was not long in coming and was soon expressed in the decree of the Council of People's Commissars "On the removal of monuments erected in honor of the tsars and their servants, and the development of projects for the monuments of the Russian socialist revolution", adopted on April 12, 1918. The Council of People's Commissars expressed a desire "that on May 1, some of the ugliest idols should be removed and the first models of new monuments put up for the judgment of the masses." The first temporary monuments, as planned, were laid and opened for the Day of International Workers' Solidarity. This action was viewed as an important political and ideological event and was held in a solemn atmosphere, with rallies, at which Lenin spoke more than once.

The French revolutionaries pioneered the destruction of imperial visual agitation, monasteries and government institutions. The agitated masses swept away the Bastille. True, none of the historians of the French Revolution still understands why it was necessary to destroy the fortress, given over to prison, if at the beginning of the assault there were only seven prisoners, one of whom was a sharpie, and two more were insane. The Bastille had nothing to do with the royal court. Most likely, the leaders of the July uprising of 1789 skillfully redirected the heated crowd of Parisians, switching its attention, and therefore muscle destructive power, from the royal palace to the fortress that did not interfere with anyone.

It took another three years not to leave a stone unturned from the "hated prison" and gradually return the muscular population of the Parisian outskirts to their usual state of monotony. The Great French Revolution had its own tasks and goals, it did not care about the common people. By the way, hired by enterprising Parisian leatherworkers hoping to get their little "benefit-benefit", artisans and artisans sawed stones and cut out miniature models of the Bastille from them, which were then sold to everyone in the form of paperweights and other small souvenir stationery.

In the 20th century, the trade in fragments of the Berlin Wall went just as briskly, when it collapsed in the early 90s. After all, the wall, erected in one night on August 13, 1961, between East and West Germany, produced a noticeable political resonance throughout the world, becoming a multifaceted symbol of international monumental propaganda.


A devastating fate befell the equestrian sculpture of King Louis XV on the Place de la Concorde in Paris in 1792 during the French Revolution. She was thrown from the pedestal and sent to be melted down to the cannons. Some time later, from stones and plaster on the former royal pedestal, a huge statue of Liberty was erected, painted in bronze, and next to it the main guillotine of France took its "honorable" place.

One of the tasks of the decree "On the removal of monuments … and the development of projects …", as well as the commission on monumental art working on it, was to create a list of persons to whom it was supposed to erect monuments. 69 names of revolutionaries, progressive public figures, great personalities of Russian and foreign culture, including poets, philosophers, scientists, artists, composers, actors. It was also accepted for consideration the creation of a number of works - compositions of monumental art of allegorical nature.

Monumental art, which includes monumental painting and monumental sculpture, must be organically woven into the general outline of the architectural ensemble and the interior of the structures. The first monuments, installed according to the decree, turned out to be not only of low artistic value, but also of poor quality. In the Russian climatic conditions, they were falling apart before our eyes, without standing even for several months.

A monumental creation, as a rule, was constructed from cheap materials such as concrete, wood, plaster, and was of a temporary nature. Only rare projects were supposed to be created in "eternal" material. Perhaps this would have happened if the Civil War, which began in 1919, had not distracted from the monumental propaganda.

Soon plaster, progressive-minded international figures, unknown to the people, were replaced by simpler and more understandable topics. The sculptures "The Great Metalworker", "Liberated Labor" (1920, sculptor MF Blokh) praised the representatives of the proletariat. Although ideologically they were correctly expressed, at the same time they were striking in their unaestheticness and outright hack-work.

The monuments of monumental art that came to replace them of the second half of the 1920s – 1930s and the following decades carried the same ideological message, which was based on socialist realism in art. Monumental propaganda was designed to demonstrate the successes of Soviet people in production, agriculture, sports, science and art, and later in space exploration.

The theme of the worker - the worker and the farmer - became the leading theme in the monumental and decorative art of the USSR. The revolution, having freed the muscular man from the capitalist fetters, raised him to the very top of the social hierarchy. The Bolshevik ideology elevated the Russian "muscle mass", proclaiming the slogans: "The land - to the peasants!", "Plants - to the workers", "Peace to the peoples!", Making government in the country popular, and the state - workers and peasants, with the "party of the proletariat and poor village toilers”at the head. The social changes in Russia that began with the October Revolution upended the hierarchy pyramid, turning it upside down. The Russian revolution created a new type of state, where the people were at the top. The Bolsheviks took into account the experience of tsarist Russia, in which there is an interclass gap, when "the upper classes cannot rule in the old way, and the lower classes no longer want" to live as before,proved to be irresistible. The upper strata formed at the expense of a narrow aristocratic and cultural-intellectual superstructure, while the lower strata consisted of a completely illiterate mass of workers and peasants. Their armed clash, in the absence of a skin buffer standardization, which made it possible, as in Western countries, to resolve internal political and social issues in a bloodless way, became inevitable.


Without repeating the mistakes of the past, but only reasonably drawing lessons from them, the Bolsheviks managed to balance the situation. Having received control over the country, they made a shift in the priorities of morality and, promising "who was nothing, he will become everything", kept their Bolshevik word. They reversed the interests of the peoples of Russia, elevating the muscular part of the population to the very top. "A man of labor is not an intellectual in a hat for you, please respect him!" - for many decades this phrase will become the main one for all Soviet art, including monumental propaganda.

The pyramid of hierarchy turned out to be inverted: its stability was not ensured according to the skin principle, where the basis is the law, but was fastened with an ideological solution. The Bolsheviks took a great interest in Freudian psychoanalysis. The study, and then the refraction of its laws with application to their goals, made it possible to realize the main one - to create a "new type of man of the future", the very homosoveticus who did not burn in fire, did not drown in water and could calmly give his life "For the Motherland!", "For Stalin!" and "For the future of all mankind!" Raised to the top of the hierarchy, the people nominated professional workers, highly qualified agricultural specialists from their ranks, and formed the first generation of the Soviet cultural, creative and scientific and technical intelligentsia. “The Man of the Future” could not but be sung on canvas and frescoes, in granite and stone.

Continue reading:

Monumental propaganda. Part 2

Monumental propaganda. Part 3

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