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Unit information: Art in Russia and the Soviet Union (Lecture Response Unit) in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Art in Russia and the Soviet Union (Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HART30025
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Mike O'Mahony
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The unit explores developments in the theory and practice of art during a crucial period in Russian and Soviet history. Commencing with an analysis of the historical conditions and cultural debates in early 20th century Russia, the unit considers the following themes: the emergence of an early Russian avant-garde; the impact of the First World War and the 1917 revolutions; the new role for artists in the immediate post-revolutionary era; the ideological and cultural debates of the 1920s; the re-emergence of figurative styles in the 1920s and 1930s; the formation and development of a Socialist Realist aesthetic; and the role of the artist during the conflict known in Russia as the Great Patriotic War.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

(1) articulate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of the development the main artistic currents in Russia and the Soviet Union;

(2) demonstrate an in-depth understanding of its historical, artistic and cultural contexts;

3) analyse and evaluate aesthetic issues pertinent to the study of Russian and Soviet art;

(4) identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument.

(5) display high level skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing images and ideas as appropriate to level H/6.

Teaching details

1 x 2hr informal lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week

Assessment Details

1 x 3000 word essay (50%) [ILOs 1-5]

1 x two-hour exam [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

  • Jane Sharp, Russian Modernism Between East and West: Natalya Goncharova and the Moscow Avant-garde (Cambridge 2006)
  • Sarah Warren, Mikhail Larionov and the Cultural Politics of Late Imperial Russia (Farnham 2013)
  • Matthew Cullerne Bown & Brandon Taylor, Art of the Soviets: Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in a One-Party State 1917-1992 (Manchester 1993)
  • Matthew Cullerne Bown, Socialist Realist Painting (New Haven 1998)