Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov called Lenin (1870-1924) 1924 post

Russian School 

Portrait of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov called Lenin (1870-1924), Russian School
Oil on canvas
20th Century
39 x 26 1/2 inches 99 x 67 cm
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Lenin considered the aim of art not to be the creation of elitist works but for the education of the masses and thus necessarily intelligible to all. He considered culture a political means and called for its conversion from an instrument of capitalism into one of socialism, thereby combining the proletarian revolution the bourgeois culture.

As with the preponderance of images of Chairman Mao in Communist China, Lenin's likeness became a much reproduced icon of socialist idealism. The quality of this example however, in its force of characterisation, transcends any poster-like mass representation, creating the superior sense of spatial illusionism and thus eminent intelligibility that forms the heart of Socialist Realism, and giving the sitter a prescence that betrays its iconic status.
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