- Russian Revolution





Moor, Have You Volunteered?  1920.

Roerich, The Idols (1901)

Malevich, Red Square (1915)

 Tatlin, Model for
Monument to the Third International (1919)

The Soviet and Electrification (1921)

Konstantin Melnikov, Soviet Pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition of Decorative Arts 1925

Poster for Eisenstein's October (1928)

Red Army Men by Varvara Stepanova, 1930

Voron, For Shock-Brigade Reaping and for a Bolshevik Harvest  Poster. 1934

Laktionov: Portrait of Stalin (1949)

Vladimirski, Roses for Stalin. (1949)

 Deineka (1899-1969) Collective Farm Worker on a Bicycle  1935

Efimov, Ezhov's Iron Glove (1937)

Rodchenko, Advertising poster for the state airline Dobrolet. 1923.

Pioneer Girl (Pionerka). 1930.

Untitled photograph of a guard and prisoners during the building of the  White Sea-Baltic Sea Canal. 1933

Deineka, The River (1944)

Physical Culture in the USSR

Denieka, Untitled 1937

Kotliarov,  Portrait of Stakhanov (1938)

If Tomorrow Brings War (1938)

War Games 1939

Key Questions




  • What was the relationship between the mode of production and the values and political/social structures of Imperial Russia? How did this shift over the course of the 1920s and 1930s?
  • To what degree was the Russian Revolution caused by the stress and impact of World War I, the failures of modernization attempts, and/or the ineptitude of Nicholas II?
  • To what degree were the revolutions of 1917 popular movements for change?
  • What was the impact of the Russian Revolution on Russian society? On artistic expression? On history?
  • How has the history of the Russian Revolution been refashioned and used by subsequent generations for their own contemporary purposes?
  • How did the Bolsheviks use artistic expression in literature, art and music to bolster their ideology and solidify their regime?

Russian Rev Political, Social, Economic, Intellectual Religious

Russian Rev Art:

Russian Rev Literature:

Russian Rev Music:

Primary Sources:

Primary Sources:

Primary Sources:

Primary Sources:

Russia at the Turn of the Century:

  • Workers Petition to Nicholas II  (Bloody Sunday 1905)
  • Tolstoy, "I Cannot Remain Silent" (1905)
  • Nicholas II, October Manifesto (1905); Dissolution of the Duma (1907);  Imperial Manifesto (1907)
  • In 1909 a group of philosophers critical of the radical intelligentsia and its role in the Revolution of 1905 published a collection of essays called Vekhi (Landmarks):  a fierce attack on the nineteenth-century cult of ‘the people’ and its tendency to subordinate all other interests to the people’s cause.

Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism



Aleksandr Moravov: Meeting of the Village Poor Committee (1920)

The NEP:

The Power Struggle:


Join Us in The Kolkhoz (1930)


Dmitrii Debabov: Construction of Magnitogorsk (1930)

Terror and Famine:

The Great Purges:

Pimenov, The New Moscow (1937)

Malevich, Red Cavalry (1930)

The Symbolists and Primitivists:
  • Leon Bakst, Mikhail Larionov, Natalia Goncharova and Alexandre Benois
  • Benois’ illustrations for The Bronze Horseman (1905-18)

Kandinsky, Motley Life (1907); All Saints II (1917)

Popova's Machine (1922)

Constructivists like Malevich and Tatlin, Rodchenko and Stepanova

White on White (1918)

Altman, Anna Akhmatova (1914)
Rodchenko, illustration for Mayakovsky's Pro Eto (1923)

Maquette for an illustration for About This (Pro eto), a poem  by Vladimir Mayakovsky. 1923.

Mukhina, Worker and Collective Farm Girl  (1937)

Socialist Realism:

Kotov,  Blast Furnace (1930)

Socialist Realsim (literature ):

  • Gorky’s early novel Mother (1906) model for Socialist Realism
  • Aleksei Gastev: a ‘proletarian poet’ (the ‘Ovid of engineers, miners and metalworkers’, as he was described by fellow poet Nikolai Aseev),70 Gastev conjured up the vision of a future communist society in which man and machine merged
  • Dmitry Furmanov’s Chapaev (1923) fixed the model of the civil war hero:  Stalin’s favourite film
  • Fedor Gladkov’s Cement (1925) 
  • Nikolai Ostrovsky,  How the Steel Was Tempered (1932)
  • Demyan Bedny









Marina Tsvetaev

Andrei Bely’s  Petersburg (1913-14) set during the 1905 revolution, apocalyptic vision ala Bronze Horseman

Science Fiction:






  • The Epifan Locks (1927), a timely allegory on the grandiose but ultimately disastrous canal-building projects of Peter the Great
  • Chev-engur (also 1927), a fatal odyssey in search of the true communist society
  • The Foundation Pit  (1929-30) (summary); Soul and Other Stories (1938)  “The Motherland of Electricity” (1939); “The Cow” (1938 or 1939); Orlando Figes, "A Great Russian Writer in the Communist Cauldron" NYRB April 29, 2010
  • ‘Pushkin Our Comrade’ (1937)




Pasternak, Selected Poems


Theatre: Myerhold

Kinok group, The Man with a Movie Camera (1929)

montage. By intercutting shots to create shocking contrasts and associations

the humorous novels of Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov, whose protagonist Ostap Bender speaks Bolshevik with such fluency that he can assume any role in Soviet society at will.

The Imperial style was defined by the polonaise. Bolshevism was built on the mass commercial culture of the towns. The urban song, the foxtrot and the tango, the gramophone, the fairground entertainment and the cinema.


Hymn to Stalin


Poster for Alexander Nevsky (1938)

  • Gogolian opera The Nose (1930) and his Third (‘May Day’) Symphony (1930), with its fast-paced montage of musical tableaux. 

  • Shostakovich’s first film score, for The New Babylon (1929), a cinematic reconstruction of the revolutionary events of the Paris Commune in 1871.
  • January 28, 1936: The Publication in Pravda of the Article "Chaos Instead of Music" (13 Days When Music Changed Forever) This article signaled Stalin’s displeasure with Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and led to the composer’s “redemption” in his Symphony No. 5.  This program will explore Shostakovich and the sometimes mutually beneficial, sometimes terrifying, relationship between music and the totalitarian state.
  • Fifth Symphony (1937) (Keeping Score)  (the composer’s ‘Socialist Realist’ rejoinder to those who had attacked Lady Macbeth), which received a half-hour ovation of electrifying force when it was first performed in the Great Hall of the Leningrad Philharmonia in November 1937.
  • Seventh Symphony (1942) composed during the Seige of Leningrad:  symphony was  performed in the bombed-out Great Hall of the Philharmonia on 9 August 1942
  • Rayok, or The Peep Show, a cantata satire on the Zhdanov era
  • Shostakovich first used Jewish themes in the finale of the Second Piano Trio (1944), : the song cycle From Jewish Poetry (1948), courageously performed at private concerts in his flat at the height of the Doctors’ Plot;
  • The Thirteenth Symphony (1962), the ‘Babi Yar’ with its requiem, the words composed by the poet Yevtushenko, for the Jews of Kiev who were murdered by the Nazis in 1941; and virtually all the string quartets from No. 3 (in 1946) to the unforgettable No. 8 (in 1961).
  • Figes, The Truth About Shostakovich  NYRB (2004)

Aram Khachaturian

Eisenstein (1926)
























Russian Rev Political, Social, Economic, Intellectual Religious

Russian Rev Art:

Russian Rev Literature:

Russian Rev Music:

Secondary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

Secondary Sources:

  • Williams, Russia 1905 (History Today)

Great Site!: Seventeen Moments in Soviet History


The Stalin Revolution:
Russian Avant-Garde:

Suprematism and Constructivism:

Tatlin's Tower:

Socialist Realism:






Western Views of the Purges:

Socialist Realism:

The Great Patriotic War:

Russian Rev Political, Social, Economic, Intellectual Religious

 Russian Rev Art:

 Russian Rev Literature:

Russian Rev Music:

Lesson Plans and Presentations:

Lesson Plans and Presentations:

Lesson Plans and Presentations:

Lesson Plans and Presentations: