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2. Utopian Sex: The Metamorphosis of Androgynous Imagery in Russian Art of the Pre- and Post-Revolutionary Period

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses some aspects of the intense fascination with the motif of androgyny in Russia's visual arts before 1917, and maps out the metamorphosis of this utopian vision within the new cultural idiom of Socialist Realism. The transcendental union of male and female was a major theme in Vladimir Soloviev's writings, while Nikolai Berdiaev advocated androgyny as an essential pre-requisite for the flowering of human creativity. The first Russian artist to explore the motif of androgyny in painting was Mikhail Vrubel. In Soviet art of the 1930s, the subordination of the feminine to the masculine was conveyed both visually and conceptually. Vera Mukhina's sculpture marks the last stage in the metamorphosis of Androgynous Utopia in early Soviet Art, as the advent of Stalin's totalitarianism brought into existence a completely new type of ideal human being.

Keywords: Androgynous Utopia; Mikhail Vrubel; Nikolai Berdiaev; Russia's visual arts; Socialist Realism; Stalin's totalitarianism; Vera Mukhina; Vladimir Soloviev



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