"The Knocked Down Ace," by Alexander Deineka
Here's a gallery of astounding Soviet WWII-era paintings.
These are amazing paintings. I can't think of anything in the west in the same time period that is as moving, as emotionally evocative, except Norman Rockwell. It surprises me that more people don't like them.
There's a book called The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters by Frances Stonor Saunders. Part of it deals with the CIA's efforts to destroy social realism, to make acceptable only art devoid of political or emotional content. I thought they had just succeeded in keeping it out of corporate media, out of the museums, but that they couldn't change how people reacted to it. But it may be that they won and that most of us can't react to such art anymore.
These pictures, to me, represent where art should have gone after the impressionists and the post-impressionists, that they are the heirs to Gauguin and Cezanne and of Van Gogh's "Potato Eaters", to Goya's "The Third of May, 1808, or The Executions on Principe Pio Hill." Instead, what do we have today? Sometimes art is pretty. Sometimes it is clever, but it is usually without any deeper significance, without any emotional or political content.
I find that very sad.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects
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