August 23, 2010

Socialist Mosaic

There is something about the old Soviet style "art" that just rubs me the wrong way. That "something" no doubt is its link with a lack of creative freedom. Under the Soviets, all art - unless it was a dangerous nonconformist or clandestine form of art - was made to serve the dictatorship of the proletariat.... which then of course served no one for its authoritarian means and its absence of authenticity.

But now when I look at some forms of this period art, it takes me back to that time and mood; one that should not be forgotten, if only for its colossal failure. This glorious example of socialist realism - a mosaic depicting the heroic people of Albania - at the entrance of The Natural History Museum in the main Skanderbeg Square in Tirana speaks to that period... when there were still high hopes that communism could forge the path to equality and brotherly love.

Tirana, 2009

This photo of this mainly yellow mosaic is posted for Mellow Yellow Monday and I ask you to forgive me for it not being a very mellow topic. More mellowness will be found when you click the link to find links to yellow.

My photo will enlarge when you click on it.

15 comments:

Dina said...

It is really BIG.
Makes quite a statement.

Julie said...

I prefer a meaty topic like this ... as you might figure.

I don't think any of the 'socialist' states ever really wanted to forge a path to equality and brotherly love. That was simply their marketing spiel. The art is interesting when viewed in context, but I cannot see myself being engrossed in it. Some Chinese opera strikes me the same way.

I picked up a copy of Murakami's 'After Dark' today. Shall be in touch again in about a week ... if I don't bump into you again ...

Francisca said...

@Dina - yes, with the heavy hand of Big Brother.

@Julie - yes, no surprise. :-) The seeds of communism came from an altruistic mind... but over time the movement lost its heart. So yes, it became their standard for controlled PR. Like for you, neither most of the socialist art nor Chinese opera (Cantonese or Beijing) resonates with me. I don't much care for a lot of the standard old Chinese paintings either, but that really depends on the piece. Both cultures, of course, have brilliant art in many forms. (Enjoy Murakami.)

JM said...

Definitely a very communist feeling but it's a wonderful mural! My knowledge of Tirana is so limited that I'm very glad you posted a shot taken there.

Christian said...

Cool.I've seen this being featured in a movie before...great choice for MYM!

Btw, I'm Christian and I just followed you...Can you add me please?

You can view my entry here: http://superyan23.blogspot.com/2010/08/mym-jollibee.html

tapirgal said...

This stuff is always interesting as a reminder and a counterpoint to art that feels free. You described it well. It's interesting that The art procalaimed by Ayn Rand (for example, since someone once encouraged me to read about her), so far on the other side of the spectrum, looked very similar. If you read about the aesthetics she thought were "correct," they were as narrowly limiting and limited as this example. It's interesting what happens when you take humanity and individual thought/feeling out of the equation.

jennyfreckles said...

Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words!

cieldequimper said...

It just frightens me, that or what I saw in Rome. At the contemporary museum of art is a section devoted to Mussolini's regime. It's fascinating and terrifying at the same time. Few pictures of Albania around so I agree with JM.

☺lani☺ said...

Wow! That's huge, awesome!

Francisca said...

@tapirgal - I've read just about every book - fiction and non-fiction - Rand wrote... but I'll be darned if I can remember her rants about art. Considering her background, the time she wrote, and her cold philosophy of Objectivism, I am not surprised she would have that narrow sense of aesthetic... but then considering her hatred of communism, she must've been keenly aware of the origin of this Soviet style "art" and thus it seems bizarre to me. I'll have to look into that some more... you got me curious.

VP said...

I hate the content but like the form, now that is all (almost) gone. I find ciel's comparison quite right, all this kind of art is alike, using the term art with a very broad meaning.
Albania is so close and we have many Albanians here, but I know so little of this country and mostly from the wonderful books of Ismail Kadare...

Pagan Sphinx said...

Murals are so frequently used as propaganda. But what is propaganda to one person, may be a great message to another. Best not to have governments control which is which.

Interesting post. I really enjoyed it and my visit here.

eileeninmd said...

Intersting post and I try to look at it as more a piece of art than think of the bad memories and feelings.

Lesley said...

It is good hat this period is not buried, exactly as you say - for its colossal failure. I understand Tirana has been undergoing a massive revitalization in architecture this past decade. Even the communist era blocks have been painted bright colours to liven them up (since they were built to last!)

Francisca said...

@Lesley... oh my, "revitalization" may be a stretch. I called it "Pushy Pastels" or the "Disunited Colors of Tirana"! I'll have to do a post on this soon. :-D