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Totalitarian Art [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Igor Golomstock , Robert Chandler

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25. September 2012
Totalitarian Art achieves nothing less than a thorough and serious comparative study of the official art of Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, and Mao’s China.

In the Soviet Union, and later in Maoist China, theories of mass artistic appeal were used to promote the Revolution both at home and abroad. In Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy they asserted the putative grandeur of the epoch. All too often, art that served the Revolution became "total realism," and always it became a slave to the state and the cult of personality, and ultimately one more weapon in the arsenal of oppression. Igor Golomstock gives a detailed appraisal of the forms that define totalitarian art and illustrates his text with more than two hundred examples of its paintings, posters, sculpture, and architecture, and includes a powerful comparative visual essay which demonstrates the eerie similarity of the official art of these very different regimes.




"Golomstock convincingly demonstrates how the overlapping aesthetic values of these superficially disparate regimes underlined how much they had in common… Fascinating."
(-Wall Street Journal)

"Important and encyclopedic tome…Totalitarian Art is an indispensable work of reference.”
(-Foreign Affairs)


In this study of the art of Stalinist Russia, Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, the author describes the way the avant-garde and modernistic movements of the early 20th century which sought to create new artistic forms of mass appeal, were quickly expropriated by dictatorial regimes. In the Soviet Union, and later in Maoist China, theories of mass artistic appeal were used to export the Revolution. In Nazi Germany and Italy they reflected the putative grandeur of the epoch. All too often art became a means of oppression and the servant of the cult of personality. The author was born in Russia but left for the West in 1972. He has written a book on Hieronymus Bosch and co-written a study of Picasso. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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4.0 von 5 Sternen The Art of Oppression 16. Juli 2007
Von Shellie - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Igor Golomstock bravely explores the frightening aesthetic similarities of four of the 20th Centuries most notorious dictatorships, and totalitarian cultures. While his focus is primarily on Nazi Germany under Hitler and The Soviet Union under Stalin, he also briefly covers the art of Fascist Italy and The Peoples Republic of China. This intelligently written book reveals how they used and abused the Western Realist Tradition in the so called fine arts, while also exploiting homegrown artistic achievements that appealed to nationalist pride and xenophobic fears. Each of these regimes employed surprisingly similar thematic content, in epic painting and colossal sculpture. Depictions of happy families and dutiful mothers, contented workers merrily laboring away in fields or factories, and of heroic soldiers on the crucible of the battlefield were particularly favoured. Depictions of the bountiful Fatherland and the industrial might of all four states figured heavily too, especially in The Third Reich and The Soviet Union. And of course looming in importance above all other subject matter was the iconic and idealized portrait of the loving and benevolent, visionary and wise leader himself. The architecture of classical antiquity served as the model for most state buildings (irrespective of political ideology) in the form of monumental stripped or neoclassical architecture that was used to oppressive and soul destroying ends. Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin for example had audaciously bold plans to completely rebuild their respective capital cities - Rome, Berlin and Moscow - on a stupendously massive scale to suit their pompous tastes, though fortunately for later generations of people to live in these three beautiful cities these grand and delusional visions were never fully realized.

Mr Golomstock's revealing book deftly shows how politics can so very easily twist and subvert the arts to chilling ends; thus reducing them to the level of sterile, blatant and at the same time kitsch propaganda. He details how with the aesthetic philosophy of "socialist realism" art was cynically utilized by political leaders and parties as an important tool of state sponsored terrorism to indoctrinate and control the teeming masses, and subject peoples. All four totalitarian states led the populace to believe that they were variously being "liberated" from aristocratic, bourgeoisie, foreign or alternatively jewish cultural dominance; and that the only solution to societies ills was of course provided by them. This insightful and perceptive book illustrates that the far right and the far left have alot more in common than many people at either extreme of this broad political spectrum would ever like to admit! I also think it's a great shame there aren't more colour photographs in Totalitarian Art, for I believe art books really do need them, however with a book such as this it is the message that's unquestionably the most important factor, and not the pretty pictures. So if you're interested in the murky relationship between art, architecture and politics in totalitarian cultures or regimes, then do yourself a big favour and read this perceptive and timely book. And be warned that civil liberties, democratic freedoms and human rights could easily be taken away in your beloved homeland, so don't be an unthinking patriot, and always question your government... always.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen A rather impressive book on dictators and their vanity 2. April 2013
Von DFWQ - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
I figure dictators are among the most egotist people around, and when vain men have large budgets to play around with, the results can be amusing indeed. TA is well worth a read - the book teems with examples and absorbing takes on how art and culture in countries shifted as dictators took over. I grew up in Dubai, which has a benign ruler but still had the city plastered with youthful posters of the elderly king,and so it was an interesting analysis of something I experienced first-hand.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen A political diatribe 16. März 2013
Von Constant Reader - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Golomstock distorts his knowledge of art in the service of his rage against totalitarianism in this peculiar book.

To give one example, the cover illustration, a 1940s or '50s painting by one Boris Iakovlev, a minor Soviet artist, attempts to depict the larger-than-life heroism of the Soviet military leader Marshal Georgii Zhukov by placing him on a huge white horse as he triumphs over the remains of the Nazi empire. Yes, there is a tradition in bad art of placing famous generals on huge, magnificent horses. but the Iakovlev painting is so silly, so excessively overdone, that the only response to it today, and probably the only response in its time, although expressed more quietly, would be laughter. My point is that this over-the-top cartoon of a painting illuminates nothing except that it's a ridiculous piece of hack work that has received sudden prominence by Golomstock.

I was fascinated by Golomstock's same-page comparisons of Nazi and Soviet tropes in art-- I'll grant him that-- but he fails to recognize the human optimism in the "ordinary people" pictures of wholesome workers and idealistic boys and girls that I found endearing despite their obvious propaganda mission.

Okay, Golomstock does a thorough job of presenting many examples of Soviet-era artists dutifully applying brush to canvas to make Comrade Stalin look tall and benevolent, but this is something that we already knew, and were prepared for, when we began to see similar deifications of Chairman Mao.

I'm not sorry I bought this book, and I'll keep it in the house, but it is not anywhere near as revealing as the recent illustrated book on the architecture of Pyongyang that I'm very glad I bought on Amazon.
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2.0 von 5 Sternen Just got it in my mail, but... 17. Oktober 2011
Von PauloSergio from Brazil - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
When I ordered this fine-looking book, I was under the firm impression that it contained more pictures than text. Of course we need the explanations for the posters, but - to tell you the truth - what really caught my eye were the totalitarian posters. I was very disappointed to see that the book contains less than 5% of its volume in pictures - and in black and white!!! Too bad!
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