18 July, 2024

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ACADEMY (Académies): Aleksandr Aleksándrovich Deineka – “After Work” – Russia – 1954

LADIES, welcome to the wonderful, and “sexy-utilitarian” artwork of the Soviet Realism years. Supporting the communist regime was key for these artists. However, there are some gems of “male beauty,” from the Soviet period. The Russians, post-1917 wanted to show the world that their men were strong, fertile, handsome, and happy. It’s counterpart, believe or not, was seen in the US, with commercial graphics done by the private sector.

Happy, masculine men was on the menu for the communists. Did their system suck? Yes, in our opinion, but we’re not going to debate social-political issues in this art essay. Artists were given grand commissions, plus living expenses for producing the art of the regime. The young, Alexander Deyneka, work entitled “After Work” made in 1954, to promote Soviet farm life on the collective. The Russians or the Soviets seized land and nationalized. Barracks were built and they were run by mostly men and young couples.

Russian painter, Aleksandr Aleksándrovich Deineka was a Soviet artist, from this era.

Deineka was one of the most outstanding figures of Socialist Realism. He stood out in many art genres; as a painter, poster artist and sculptor. Many of his statues can still be seen in the Moscow subway system. He studied at the Kharkov Faculty of Art, where he was a student of the famous and talented Aleksandr Lubimov.

The work shows a young man taking a healthy outdoor shower after a hard day’s work, growing food for the people. He is proud of his body and the artist shows his masculinity and promotes that farm living is all about nature and freshness. The water is clear, thus stating that the regime brings good things to life. The figure is a full nude, and the Russian populous isn’t ashamed that he is a man and shows their disdain to Western ideals of modesty. Thus, stating that Soviet citizens are mature, and more educated and appreciate a man being masculine. Take this painting and cut from the waist up and do a comparison with a US soap ad from the 1950s and you’ll see the similarities. OR, a US Army public poster on base about the importance of hygiene. The US version would have not featured frontal nudity. Possibly glutes. 

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