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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Professions -- Soviet Socialist Realist art for youth

Published in Moscow in 1983 this folder of Soviet socialist realist art was actually aimed at children. It was a portfolio of works by various artists that portrayed working people in the USSR farming, building subways, engaged in construction, sorting fish etc.

All of the art reproductions were fairly large at 8 by 11 inches and came with extensive text in Russian on the back about the piece. Unfortunately we have no translations for this text, but we have translated the names of the paintings. The folder originally came with 16 pieces of which we have 12 and the cover art.

The art here is truly compelling and interesting in terms of the professions that they chose to include. It is also not overly idealized but rather shows the important role that its subjects play and the nature of what they do.

Standouts to me are the deeply atmospheric take on Steelworkers in their foundry, the look at Uzbek women engaged in gold embroidery, the more idealized portrait of workers connecting tunnels of the Kharkiv Metro and the slightly surrealist piece of the artist as worker painting the day-to-day of port life.

What also comes through is the centrality of the worker in the Soviet cultural and social narrative.

Caspian Fisheries

Artist and Port

Construction of the Kharkiv Metro

New District of Leningrad

Task Force


Waiting for the Brigade

Metro Construction Workers

Gold Gems of Bukhara

Steelworker Brigade

The First Kilometers

Harness the Horses

This post was first posted on the original The Left Chapter blog in 2017.



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