100 years is a long time in the art world; new artists, cultures and movements arise and fall. Tate Modern reflects on the centenary of the Russian 1917 revolution with two very different exhibitions, which are in many ways more interesting in terms of the links between art and society than the Modigliani exhibition which is drawing more of the crowds, but artists who die young always attract interest.
Red Star Over Russia explores the changes in visual art from 1905 to 1955 with posters, propaganda, prints and photographs from the era, the core of the exhibition being from the collection of photographer and graphic designer David King which the Tate acquired in 2016. Not only do these works reflect the culture, everyday life and the politics of the time, but they are graphically at the leading edge of the time, with artists such as Lissitky, whose work was of international importance. The exhibition includes poignant images of the Tsarina Alexandra and her children in 1905, unaware of their fate a decade later, and covers both everyday life, which was tough, and the popular images of the utopian life to be, whether linked to the Olympics or to the industrial revolution which would transform the nation.
At later date, in Moscow in the 1960′s, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov embarked upon a career which is little known in this country but has created a huge body of work including paintings and, more especially, installations, drawing on Russian history, society and images, along with models of unexecuted monuments which, like those in Russia, but in a different way, give hope of a better life with the angels rising to heaven, while reflecting on the reality and fears of the past and of today.
The Kabakovs now live in New York. Well done to the Tate for arranging this fascinating exhibition which shows the imagination and versatility of the artists, covering the wide variety of their work, which deserves more recognition.