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Why Art and History Enthusiasts Should Visit Moscow

by Iulia Lupse
Why Art and History Enthusiasts Should Visit Moscow | AIFS Study Abroad

If you are an art lover, you must visit Moscow. Moscow is home to numerous extraordinary museums and galleries such as the State Tretyakov Gallery, The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, The Multimedia Art Museum, and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. The State Tretyakov Gallery is one of the most revered galleries in the world, and sure does not disappoint. It houses many wonderful works of art, such as the Portrait of an Unknown Woman by Ivan Kramskoi, The Unequal Marriage by Vasily Pukirev, and the Trinity by Andrei Rublev, among many others. Moreover, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is home to various international masterpieces, with one of them being The Red Vinyard by Vincent Van Gogh. Famous works from artists such as Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Gauguin, and Matisse are found in the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts.

However, it is not necessary to go to a museum in order to enjoy artwork. In Moscow, one must only go for a stroll through the city in order to see art and history intertwined. The most prominent art form in Moscow, one that is important both on an artistic and historical level, is socialist realism. Socialist realism was developed during the Soviet Union as a form of art that exalts communist values. It is characterized as a passionate and optimistic art form that puts the proletarian on a pedestal and is careful not to show the negative aspects of society unless they happened during another time.

Socialist realism is seen everywhere in Moscow, especially in the metro stations. Moscow Metros are, in themselves, museums. The metro stations are decorated with murals, sculptures, and so on, illustrating powerful proletariats. These art works are quite breath-taking and very easy to understand. Yet, they evoke a powerful feeling within the viewer. One could say that it fills the viewer with Soviet pride, even if the viewer has no connections to Russia or its history.

In one metro station, there is a statue of a boy holding a gun in his right hand, standing very tall and firm. The statue inspires a strong nationalistic feeling. Furthermore, the area around the Space Museum in Moscow is a perfect example of socialist realism. On the bottom of the rocket statue, there are images representing very strong, capable people. Murals around the city do quite the same thing. There is a sense of grandiosity that comes along with socialist realist works of art.

It is difficult not to be awestruck by the socialist realist art in Moscow. However, one must be conscious of the historical importance this form of art played in the Soviet Union. The purpose of adopting socialist realism as the main art form during the Soviet Union was to show an increased standard of living under Soviet rule, leading people to believe that the Soviet system was the best system of governance. This art was used as propaganda. The heads of state of the Soviet Union are represented as incredibly powerful and righteous people. A mosaic of Lenin inside a Moscow metro station makes Lenin look like a strong, yet understanding and compassionate leader. In a portrait of Stalin by Isaak Brodsky, Stalin looks stern and intelligent. He is depicted as a leader that everyone would love to have. In another Moscow metro station, there is a statue of three people, two men and a woman, looking like they are ready for war and ready for victory.

History and art buffs must visit Moscow where history and art is intertwined. While all art is important in its own way, socialist realist art in Moscow, especially, has deep historical implications. Walking the streets of Moscow takes one back in time. It makes one appreciate art while allowing one to be cognizant of its uses, which in some case, may be for evil. Moscow is a gem that must be explored by those who love art and history and who want to better understand the past in order to, hopefully, create a better future.

This post was contributed by Iulia Lupse, who spent her summer studying abroad with AIFS in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Why Art and History Enthusiasts Should Visit Moscow | AIFS Study Abroad

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