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9. Solomon Nikritin: The Old and the New

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on a single work, i.e. the painting, The Old and the New. A Group Portrait, by Solomon Borisovich Nikritin (1898-1965). Nikritin is one of the most original and mysterious artists of Russia's second avant-garde. On one level, the theme is simple, conventional, and entirely consonant with the code of opposites that was motivating and molding Soviet culture, especially during the pre-war period, Capitalism versus Communism, the West versus the USSR, the individual versus the collective, degeneracy versus health, utopia versus dystopia. The particular response of the Vsekokhudozhnik Art Commission to The Old and the New should be regarded as part of the general, monolithic reaction to any aesthetic system that deviated from the norms of Socialist Realism, including Nikritin's Polyrealism which, of course, was too fluid to fit the ideological canon.

Keywords: Communism; dystopia; Socialist Realism; Solomon Borisovich Nikritin; Soviet culture; The Old and the New; utopia



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