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Art & Politics : Lenin & the Bolshevik Revolution

Through Art & Politics, Art From Us and Divvya Nirula bring you stories new and old of the symbiotic nature of art and politics. Today we are looking at the Russian Bolsheviks.

The Melding of Art & Politics in Russia

Art and Politics have been intertwined for almost a century for the modern world. Many attribute this to the Russian Bolsheviks. Their union arguably originating in the era of the Bolshevik Revolution, Russia in 1917.

It was a time of rebellion, that began with the taking over of what was then Petrograd. The series of socio-political events that followed would eventually lead to the formation of the Soviet Union.

Earlier in 1917, Russia faced an acute shortage of food. This and the disastrous aftermath of World War I, led to the execution of the last Russian Czar, Nicholas II. In lieu of him, the country was led by a provisional government and the Petrograd Soviet. Finally, in October, Vladmir Lenin and his leftist revolutionaries occupied significant territories of Petrograd. Thereby forming their own government, led by Lenin. This came to be known as the Bolshevik or the October Revolution.

During this period of strife and struggle, the Russian Bolsheviks took over the printing press. This led to the spread of their messages and furthered their propaganda. They printed posters and newspapers and pasted them around the city as graffiti. While the images depicted upon these papers may have been far removed from reality. It is worth noting that they nonetheless serve as constant reminders of communal power.

These leaflets were the initial embodiment of what would eventually evolve into Political Art. The Russian Bolsheviks are accredited with how art and politics have become symbiotic. More recently we can look to the President Obama Campaign and the “HOPE” poster by Shepard Fairey. And we can see that this movement is still alive, and is still quoted from during times of both peace and protest.

Some Thoughts to Ponder

Researching this article, Divvya Nirula asked the following of her team. She said,

As you go about your day – can you identify political art in your home? Or at your school? Is there political art on TV? Or then on your bust stop or the metro. Political Art today has become very nuanced. It is subtle. Technological advancements help get the “message” further and louder. Lenin’s revolt and the humble printing press have been long left behind. Don’t you agree? How do you think the Russian Bolsheviks have affected your reality?

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