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29 May 2024

6-8pm, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Vernon Square Campus, WC1X 9EW

Collective Body: Book launch and panel discussion on the limits of socialist realism

Join us for a panel discussion to mark the launch of Christina Kiaer’s new book Collective Body: Aleksandr Deineka at the Limit of Socialist Realism (University of Chicago Press, 2024), which offers a new account of Socialist Realism not as a totalitarian style but as a fiercely collective art system. Christina Kiaer is joined by Maria Mileeva, Michał Murawski, Alex Potts and Sarah Wilson.

Dislodging the avant-garde from its central position in the narrative of Soviet art, Collective Body presents painter Aleksandr Deineka’s corporeal version of Socialist Realism as an alternate experimental aesthetic that activates affective forces for collective ends.

Christina Kiaer traces Deineka’s path from his avant-garde origins as the inventor of the proletarian body in illustrations for mass magazines after the revolution through his success as a state-sponsored painter of monumental, lyrical canvases during the Terror and beyond. Deineka figures in this study not as a singular master, in the spirit of a traditional monograph, but as a limit case of the system he inhabited and helped to create.

Collective Body shows how the art of the October Revolution continues to capture viewers’ imaginations by evoking the elation of collectivity, retaining the potential to inform the art-into-life experiments of contemporary art.

The event is organised by Maria Mileeva, Lecturer at The Courtauld, in collaboration with the FRINGE Centre for the Study of Social and Cultural Complexity (UCL) and PPV (Perverting the Power Vertical: Politics and Aesthetics).

Admission free, pre-booking essential


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