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Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Building the Revolution, Royal Academy of Arts

‘Building the Revolution’ is a small but thoughtful exhibition showing in the upper Sackler Wing at the Royal Academy. I visited after a long look round the Hockney so, I'm afraid, my mind kept wandering back to the bright landscapes on show below.

The show focuses on Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935, very much activities that ran in parallel in the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. Pre-revolution the basics of colour and geometry were stripped right back with cool, minimal results. The Russian Revolution in 1917 brought the Bolsheviks to power leading to a period of intense innovation in visual arts and architecture. A radical visual language was established to represent the new world of Soviet Socialism. Artists and architects worked in a burst of creativity, abandoning traditional ways to address the modern world.

This exhibition explores the relationship and interplay between art and architecture, qualities are presented through both forms… the cubist-influenced art is structural and exact and the architecture shows similar qualities, together they present a vivid picture of the idealistic culture of the time.

At times the exhibition is a little too much like a history lesson, though there are some beautiful photos of geometric architecture and lovely artworks by leading Russian avant-garde artists El Lissitzky and Liubov Popova. They save the best till last, the final room shows small cubist works by Russian artist Ivan Kudryashev. The palette used is gorgeous with angular shapes and subtle shading, understated but beautiful work from this little known artist.

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