Visual Art: Movements and Schools

he last decades of the nineteenth century and beginning of the twentieth witnessed an incredible ferment of experimentation in the visual arts. Beginning with a group know as the Wanderers, who gradually broke from the prevailing academic trends and patronage reward systems of the Academy in the late 1860s, Russian visual art became a phenomenon of rapid change and competing schools. Artists thought and rethought art's connection to objective reality, art's relation to everyday life and politics, the artist's relationship to the work, etc. Primitivism gave way to cubism, cubism to totally nonobjective Rayonism, non-objectivity to Suprematism. In fact, such a dialectal view of movements oversimplifies the rapid-fire shifts, many of which coexisted or faded in and out of public view. This level of dynamism did not end until at the least the beginning of the cultural hegemony of Socialist Realism imposed by the Communist party during the early 1930s. Even that movement, however, is best seen as the last in a series of shifts rather than a decisive end.

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