PRINT November 2012


Aleksandr Deineka, The Ball Game, 1932, oil on canvas, 49 x 49"

WHY DEINEKA NOW? At a time when contemporary art is revisiting all forms of figuration, realism, and neoclassicism, it should come as no surprise that the work of Russian artist Aleksandr Deineka (1899–1969) is garnering new audiences, with four major exhibitions on view in Europe within the past few years. There is more to the story, however, than the belated recognition of a talented figurative painter. Deineka conjured Soviet bodies—working, playing sports, flying, bathing, marching, meeting, and fighting from the Revolution through the early Brezhnev era—with a haptic intensity that belies our preconceptions about the massive cultural project of the period: socialist realism. Yet while his work was not fully representative of this system, he was a major player in its institutions and a staunch supporter of the program it represented. This position within and without

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