Russian Art: A History of creativity and culture
The Russian people have a long, rich history. Their traditions and values are well-known, and their culture is one of the most diverse in the world. Learn more about the history of Russia and some of its globally renowned artists from this article.
As the biggest country in the world, Russia represents thousands of years of cultural development and dozens of cultural ethnicities. It gathers pain, prayer, family values, and religion into a very unique artistic representation. Russian culture is imbued with the motives of the struggle for freedom, and independence, it almost always contains the image of a free person, which opposes the system and lays down his life in the fight against the system for the future. So Russia is not only about Vodka, Matryoshka and Balalaika. Russia has had a vast impact on the world’s literature, theatre, ballet and music movements. The names of Russian culture are known all over the world: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Tchaikovsky, Glinka, Pushkin, Akhmatova and many others. The works of Russian writers have been translated into many languages. Performances of "Swan Lake" or "The Nutcracker" are successfully staged on the stages of various theatres. The world knows the artists Serov, Surikov, Vasnetsov, Ivanov, and Malevich. It is this characteristic feature that makes Russian culture attractive to foreigners who have been trying to comprehend the mysterious “Russian soul” for centuries.
Over time, the formation of domestic culture was inextricably linked with the history of Russia. Culture and art were defined by various factors like religion, politics, wars, Western Influence, and Immigration. Russian art was praised, oppressed, abandoned, and mixed and now the world can enjoy it in a state as it is. Starting from Slavik cultural material, Russian culture and art were formed by adapting the feature of many other foreign cultures like Eastern Orthodox Byzantine culture, Mongol Hordes, and lastly Western Europe.
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Kievan Rus has given such important artistic aspects such as architecture and art to the development of modern Russian culture. The interiors of many remarkable churches were ornately decorated with frescoes and icons borrowed from the Byzantine style. During the Kievan period, Russia enriched its literature heritage by producing pieces about Tatar invasions and Russian autobiographies. These have produced great masters that are now placed in Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery, and continue to design and build impressive churches.
Starting from the 17th century, the Russian artistic legacy was influenced greatly by Western Europe brought by Peter the Great. This period was later called “ the Russian enlightenment”. From feudalism, Russia is slowly turning to capitalism, and therefore to a new economic order, a new way of life. Religious art is also shifting to a more materialistic, profane art. Foreign teachers are invited to the Russian land to educate the population and support the “secularization” of Russian arts and culture. Likewise, Russian masters and students were sent abroad to obtain the skill of essential craftsmanship for Russian culture. Also, during this period, a vast contribution to the artistic development of Saint-Petersburg was made by Peter the Great.
The beginning of the 20th century was another breath of fresh air for Russia with the slogan “art for art’s sake,” an exceptionally creative period in the history of Russian poetry. The concentration of talented world-renowned artists and poets was incomparable to any time up until nowadays. Avant-garde art, theatre, cinema, photography and sculpture were developing drastically, creating a revolution on expressing feelings, symbols, and social and economical issues in the country.
So overall, Russia is very rich in talented people in many professions. Even after centuries of development, the art community is still growing giving the world emerging talents in art, music, literature, journalism, and cinematography. Due to constantly evolving restrictions and control of the media, those artists cannot always express their true opinions and visions. Provocative artists raising thought-provoking topics are not always tolerated and can be subjected to the law. Political issues in contemporary Russia are one of the biggest themes and blockers for modern Russian art. However, the Russian art scene is diverse and also features historical movements, nature, psychological patterns, global world issues, and pursuing forgotten narratives of the past or current ones, that are often deeply personal for the artist. Discover more artworks from our Russian artists:
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