Cold Revolution. Central and Eastern Europe Societies In the Face of Socialist Realism, 1948–1959
Zachęta – National Gallery of Art
In the climate of the Cold War — international tensions, the arms race, and burgeoning communist dictatorships — a radical social revolution took place in Central and Eastern Europe. What impact did it have on the visual culture of the 1950s?
The international conference is an opportunity to discuss the issues showcased by the Cold Revolution exhibition (planned for 23 October 2020–25 January 2021). It links areas of study such as art history and social, political or cultural history. Experts in various fields will focus on the main theme of the exhibition — the profound social transformations of the 1950s, which included mass migrations from rural areas to cities and the social advancement of workers.
Both the conference and the exhibition are part of current historical research that takes into account the active and subjective participation of society in these processes. In presentations and discussions, we will look for answers to the question of what are the essential features of a social revolution that took place in non-democratic countries. Do works of art — fine arts, architecture, design or film — help us understand this complex process? How did the process of democratisation of access to culture take place in the countries of the Eastern Bloc and what was the role of the amateur art movement, initiated from the top down? Did Socialist Realism serve to bring about the idea of an egalitarian society? We will also examine how the propaganda-carrying idea of gender equality and the professional emancipation of women translated into the representation of this phenomenon in art, for example in the activity of women in the film milieu.
The period of Socialist Realism is one of the most critical and problematic periods of contemporary art history (also often called the ‘Great Other’ of the 20th century). The goal of the conference is to inscribe it in the process of changes in 20th-century culture — that is why the subject matter of the presentations goes beyond the period of Stalinism in the countries of the Eastern Bloc. An attempt will also be made to outline Socialist Realist artistic geography by reconstructing some of the directions of international cultural exchange (between the countries of the Eastern Bloc, Western Europe or Asia).
Wednesday 29th January [Iluzjon Cinema]
- 6 pm–8 pm: Women and Men Filmmakers and Socialist Realism — part 1, presentation of movies at the Iluzjon Cinema (introduction: Monika Talarczyk)
Thursday 30th January: Time and Space of Socialist Realism
- 9.30 am–10 am
Welcome: Hanna Wróblewska (Zachęta – National Gallery of Art), Barbara Schabowska-Maszenda (IAM)
Introduction: Jérôme Bazin (Paris-Est Créteil University) and Joanna Kordjak (Zachęta — National Gallery of Art)
10 am–1 pm
Session 1. The Time of Socialist Realism
Chair: Gabriela Świtek (Zachęta — National Gallery of Art, University of Warsaw)
- 10 am–10.30 am: Dorota Jarecka (Polish Academy of Science, Warsaw), The Dialectic of Socialist Realism in Poland (1933–1949)
- 10.30 am–11 am: Marie Klimešová (Charles University, Prague), Artistic and Political Engagement in Czechoslovakia from the 1930s to the 1950s
- 11 am–11.30 am: discussion and coffee break
- 11.30 am–12 pm: Gabor Rieder (freelancer curator and researcher, Budapest), Defloration of the Spring Theory. About the End of the Hungarian Socialist Realism in 1957
- 12 pm–12.30 pm: Constantin Iordachi (Central European University, Budapest), Enacting the Communist Utopia: The 1950s inside the Twentieth Century
- 1 pm–2.30 pm: lunch break
2.30 pm–6 pm
Session 2. The Space of Socialist Realism: Artistic Circulations
Chair: Katarzyna Murawska Muthesius (Birbeck College, University of London)
- 2.30 pm–3 pm: Sergei Fofanov (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow),
"Das große Vorbild". The Great Example.Socialist Realism and Translation of Soviet Art Critic Language in Early GDR
- 3 pm–3.30 pm: Justyna Balisz-Schmelz (University of Warsaw), There Was No Third Germany. Migrations of West German Artists to the GDR between 1949 and 1961
- 3.30 pm–4 pm: Szymon Kubiak (National Museum in Szczecin), Far from Moscow. Western European Communist Artists in Poland
- 4 pm– 4.30 pm: discussion, coffee break
- 4.30 pm– 5 pm: Emma Hanzlíková (Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design, Prague), A Friendship Between the Chinese Red Dragon and the Czechoslovak Lion
- 5 pm–5.30 pm: Doreen Mende (HEAD Genève, Farocki Institut Berlin), Discussing an Architectural Internationalism from East Germany in North-Korea through a Chronopolitical Lens
- 5.30 pm– 6 pm: discussion
Friday 31th January: The Workers: the Main Target of Socialist Realism
9.30 am–12.30 pm
Session 3. The Celebration of the Working Class and the Proletarisation of Art
Chair: Tomasz Załuski (University of Lodz)
- 9.30 am–10 am: Agata Pietrasik (Berlin), Piotr Słodkowski (Academy of Fine Arts, Warsaw), Propagating Culture in the 1950s: Between Ideology and Praxis
- 10 am–10.30 am: Aleksandra Sumorok (Academy of Fine Arts, Łódź), Monday Palaces: Architecture and Interiors of Socialist-realist Houses of Culture in Poland
- 10.30 am–11 am: coffee break
- 11 am–11.30 am: Ondřej Táborský (National Museum, Prague), Advertising in Everyday Visual Culture in Communist Czechoslovakia
- 11.30 am–12.30 pm: discussion
- 12.30 pm–2 pm: lunch break
2 pm–5.30 pm
Session 4. The Many Faces of the Working Class. Workers/Peasants, Men/Women, National Minorities
Chair: Jérôme Bazin (Paris-Est Créteil University)
- 2 pm–2.30 pm: Sandor Horvath (Hungarian Academy of Science, Budapest), Social Divisions inside the Working Class in the 1950s
- 2.30 pm–3 pm: Irina Tulbure (Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest), Urban and Rural Architecture in Hunedoara
- 3 pm–3.30 pm: Alina Mircea (Carol I Museum of Brăila), Old Communities in a New World: Ethnic Portraits of Lipovans and Tatars in Romania
- 3.30 pm–4 pm: discussion, coffee break
- 4 pm–4.30 pm: Astrid Ihle (Wilhelm-Hack Museum, Ludwigshafen), 'Women under Socialism': A Documentary Project by East German photographer Evelyn Richter
- 4.30 pm–5 pm: Monika Talarczyk (Film School, Łódź), Anka’s Interrupted Career. Socialist Realist Films by Broniewska-Kozicka
- 5 pm–5.30 pm: discussion
- 5.30 pm–6 pm: Conclusion of the conference by Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius (Birbeck College, University of London).
- 6.15 pm–8 pm: Women and Men Filmmakers and Socialist Realism — part 2, presentation of movies, multimedia room at Zachęta (introduction: Monika Talarczyk)
Speakers and their biograms:
art historian, critic and curator. Since 2016, she has run the Studio Gallery in Warsaw. Author of books Erna Rosenstein. Mogę powtarzać tylko nieświadomie (2014, with Barbara Piwowarska), Anda Rottenberg. Już trudno (2013), co-editor of books about artists: Ewa Zarzycka. Lata świetności (2016), Natalia LL. Doing Gender (2013), Krystiana Robb-Narbutt. Drawings, Objects, Studio (2012). Co-author of Erna Rosenstein’s exhibitions at the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw (2011), at Art Stations Foundation in Poznań (2014) and at the Xawery Dunikowski Museum of Sculpture in Królikarnia, a Branch of the National Museum in Warsaw (2014). She is a member of the Civic Forum of Contemporary Art and the AICA International Association of Art Critics. Winner of the Jerzy Stajuda Prize for Art Criticism. She is preparing a doctoral dissertation, The Communist Left and Art. Surrealism, Realism, Marxism, on Polish art of the 1940s, at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences.
graduated in Art History at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague (FFUK). She worked as curator at the Prague City Gallery and the National Gallery in Prague (where she was also acting director of the Collection of Modern and Contemporary Arts) and collaborated with the Raven Row art exhibition centre in London. She has realised dozens of major monographic and synthetic exhibitions devoted mostly to the new, comprehensive valuation of Czech art of the second half of the 20th century (including Focal Points of Revival: Czech Art 1956 ̶1963; Years in Days: Czech Art 1945 ̶1957; Zbyněk Sekal; Běla Kolářová; Jiří Kolář; Alena Kučerová and others). All her exhibition projects have been accompanied by authoritative publications. Currently, she is a professor at the Department of Art History of FFUK, where she has been teaching since 2003.
art historian, curator, critic and editor. His doctoral dissertation was dedicated to Hungarian Socialist Realist painting. He is the author of several hundred studies and reviews focusing on the subjects of international contemporary art and post-war art, Socialist Realism, Hungarian and Eastern-European modern and contemporary art, the art market, modern design and architecture. He is a book editor at Kieselbach Auction House (2015–), editor-in-chief of Artkartell online magazine (2015–), art director of Artkartell projectspace (2017–), and curator of the Esterhazy Art Award (2009–). He was editor-in-chief of Flash Art Hungary (2012–2014), art director of Gallery Weekend Budapest (2014–2018) and curator-at-large at Art+Text Budapest (2016–2019). He curated the Socialist Realism. Painting in the Rákosi Era exhibition (MODEM, Debrecen, 2008).
professor at the Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, co-editor of the journal East Central Europe and President of the International Association for Comparative Fascist Studies. He also serves as a member of the Academic Committee of the House of European History, Brussels. Author of Karizma, politika, erőszak: A fasiszta Vasgárda Romániában, 1927–1941 (2017, 2018); Charisma, Politics and Violence: The Legion of ‘Archangel Michael’ in Inter-War Romania (2004); and Liberalism, Constitutional Nationalism and Minorities: The Making of Romanian Citizenship, c. 1750–1918 (2019). Editor or co-editor of over 16 books, including The Biopolitics of the Danube Delta (2014); The Collectivization of Agriculture in Communist Eastern Europe (2014); Hungary and Romania Beyond National Narratives (2013); Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust in East-Central Europe (2012); Redobândirea cetăţeniei române (2012); Fascism in East, Central and Southeastern Europe (2010); Comparative Fascist Studies: New Perspectives (2009, 2010); Transforming Peasants, Property and Power: The Process of Land Collectivization in Romania, 1949–1962 (2009); and România şi Transnistria: Problema Holocaustului (2004).
art historian, curator and researcher. Since 2017, research fellow and curator at the State Tretyakov Gallery Moscow. In 2001–2006, he studied at the Russian State Academy of Art in St Petersburg, Faculty of Art History and Art Theory. From 2007–2012, he carried out scientific work at the State Hermitage St Petersburg and served as guest curator of numerous exhibition projects of Goethe-Institut in St Petersburg. From 2010–2017, he lived and worked as an independent researcher and curator in Berlin. He studied in a Ph.D. programme at the Art History Institute, Freie Universität in Berlin. In 2013–2014, he worked as assistant curator to Kasper König at the European Biennale for Contemporary Art Manifesta 10 in St Petersburg. His scientific interests focus on German and Soviet art and exhibition policy in the first half of the 20th century.
art historian and critic, graduate of Art History at the Jagiellonian University, in 2005–2010, she studied Art History and Theatre Studies at the Humboldt-Universität and then at the Freie Universität in Berlin. Currently, she works as an adjunct professor at the Department of History of Modern Art and Culture of the Institute of Art History at the University of Warsaw, she also lectures at the Faculty of Polish Studies of the Jagiellonian University. She collaborated with the Centre for Historical Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Berlin while editing Modi memorandi. Leksykon kultury pamięci. Author of the book Przeszłość niepokonana. Sztuka niemiecka po 1945 roku jako przestrzeń I medium pamięci (2018). She has published articles in scientific journals (including Przegląd Zachodni, Jahrbuch der Deutschen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, Folia Historiae Artium, Zeszyty Artystyczne, RIHA Journal) and in collective works, including Display. Strategie wystawiania and Polish Avant-garde in Berlin. Author of several contributions to exhibition catalogues and several dozen critical texts (including Arteon, Obieg, Szum, Fragile). Her scientific interests focus primarily on German art after 1945, bilateral German-Polish and German-German artistic relations; she also examines the possibility of applying the cultural theory of collective memory to the field of visual arts.
Szymon Piotr Kubiak
art historian, graduate of the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, assistant professor in the Department of History and Theory of Art at the Faculty of Painting of the Academy of Art in Szczecin, director of the Department of European Art of 1800–1945 at the National Museum in Szczecin. He deals with modern art, with special interest on architecture and design arts. His newer research focuses on the history of classical modernism in the political and social context and the Polish-German and Polish–French artistic contacts in the 20th century. His book Daleko od Moskwy. Gérard Singer i sztuka zaangażowana (2015) has just been published in French translation (Loin de Moscou. Gérard Singer et l’art engagé).
she studied Art History and Sinology at Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague. Her M.A. in art and theory was achieved at Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague. She got a scholarship to study abroad in China, in Beijing and Hangzhou Art Academy. In 2016 she graduated from postgraduate programme in Asian Art at School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Until 2020 she was a chief-curator in the new private art institution in Humpolec, which she also co-founded in 2016. Her main interest is in Asian Art and its connections to Europe. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at AAAD in Prague. She also helps her family with book business in Meander publishing house specialized in children art books.
an independent curator, researcher, writer and theorist, professor for a research-based programme on the practice and theory of curatorial questions in geopolitics at HEAD Genève. Since 2015, she has been co-running (with Tom Holert and Volker Pantenburg) the Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin. Recent curatorial projects include Hamhŭng’s Two Orphans (for Konrad Püschel) (2018–2020) in the framework of bauhaus imaginista in Moscow, Berlin, Bern and Istanbul; Navigation Beyond Vision (2019) with Farocki Institut and e-flux journal at HKW Berlin; The Prisoner Letter at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, Sharjah Biennial 13 Offsite in Ramallah, 2017, among others. Her text contributions include the Oxford Handbook for Communist Visual Cultures (2020), among others. She is the principal researcher of Decolonizing Socialism. Entangled Internationalism (2019–2023), funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, and co-founder of the collaborative European Forum for Advanced Practices (EFAP).
graduated from Freie Universität in Berlin (2017) with a doctoral dissertation dedicated to artistic practices of the 1940’s in Poland. She was a post-doctoral researcher at the German Center for Art History in Paris and the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris. Her current research project concentrates on the early exhibitions of war crimes in Europe after 1945. She is coeditor, together with Piotr Słodkowski, of Czas debat. Antologia krytycznych tekstów o sztuce z lat 1945–1959 (2016) devoted to Polish art criticism of the period (Szczęsny Dettloff Prize of the Art Historians Association, 2017).
art historian, assistant professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. Graduate of the doctoral programme of the Artes Liberales Academy, University of Warsaw. Author of the book Modernizm żydowsko-polski. Henryk Streng/Marek Włodarski a historia sztuki (2019). Editor of volumes Przestrzeń społeczna. Historie mówione Złotego Grona i Biennale Sztuki Nowej (2014) and (with Agata Pietrasik) Czas debat. Antologia krytyki artystycznej z lat 1945–1954 (2016). Two-time winner of the Szczęsny Dettloff Prize of the Art Historians Association (2017, 2018). Finalist of the 2019 Polityka Scientific Award. He is interested in Polish and Central European art of the 20th century in the perspective of contemporary humanistic thought.
art historian, graduate of the University of Łódź, defended her doctorate at the Faculty of Architecture at the Wrocław University of Technology, currently working at the Strzemiński Academy of Art Łódź. Her research interests are focused on architecture and design of the 20th century in Poland, especially from the Socialist Realism period. Author of the monograph Architektura i urbanistyka Łodzi okresu realizmu socjalistycznego, co-editor (with Tomasz Załuski) of the volume Socrealizmy i modernizacje, and author of articles on Polish architecture of the 1940s and 1950s published in monthlies and annuals in Poland and abroad. She completed an National Science Centre (NCN) research grant on Polish representative interiors in 1949–1956.
Assistant Professor, Chair of Art Theory in the Institute of Art History, University of Warsaw. Post-doctoral degree (habilitation) in the Department of History, University of Warsaw (2013). She is a graduate of the University of Cambridge (History and Philosophy of Architecture, PhD, 1999; MPhil, 1996). She is the author of Gry sztuki z architekturą. Nowoczesne powinowactwa i współczesne integracje [Art playing with architecture: Modern affinities and contemporary integrations] (2013), Aporie architektury [Aporias of architecture] (2012), Writing on Fragments: Philosophy, Architecture, and the Horizons of Modernity (2009). Edited volumes, e.g. Awangarda w bloku / Avant-garde in the Bloc (2009); publications in the Ashgate Studies in Architecture series, The Journal of Architecture, Montreal Architectural Review, Serbian Architecture Journal. Exhibitions: Transfer: Jarosław Kozakiewicz in the Polish Pavilion for the 10th International Exhibition in Venice (2006), Memory Foundations: Daniel Libeskind in Zachęta — National Gallery of Art (2004). In 2014–2018 she conducted the research project The History of Exhibitions in Zachęta — Central Office for Art Exhibitions 1949–1970 financed by the National Programme for the Development of Humanities (zacheta.art.pl/projekt-badawczy). Her most recent papers on exhibition histories include ‘Heartfield im Zentralbüro für Kunstausstellungen in Warschau (1964)’, kunsttexte.de (2018).
curator at the Department of Modern Czech History of the National Museum in Prague where he authored and co-authored number of exhibitions (Red Museums, 2011; Second Life of Hussite Movement, 2016; Retro, 2016). Trained as a historian at the Charles University in Prague (M.A., 2008), in 2016 he received a Ph.D. in Czech History there. His research interests are: the beginnings of the consumer society in communist Czechoslovakia, namely trade, consumption discourse and advertising. Since 2018, he has been the leading investigator of a three-year research project, Consumer Imagination of the Communist Dictatorship. Czechoslovak Advertisement in the Post-war Era.
the head of Department for Contemporary History at the Institute of History, Hungarian Academy of Sciences. He is the primary coordinator of the international research project COURAGE — Cultural Opposition — Understanding the Cultural Heritage of Dissent in the Former Socialist Countries (funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme). His research interests include the social and cultural history of the 20th-century, everyday life, social identities, youth history, socialist cities, social policy and collaboration during the communist regime. His latest relevant publications in: The Handbook of COURAGE: Cultural Opposition and its Heritage in Eastern Europe (2018); Stalinism Reloaded: Everyday Stalincity in Hungary (2017).
architect, assistant professor at the Department of History and Theory of Architecture and Heritage Conservation, Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest. She documents, teaches and writes about recent architecture and how this heritage can be understood today. She is involved in various cultural projects, exhibits and summer schools on this topic. Author of Architecture and Urbanism in Romania between 1944–1960: Constraint and Experiment (2016).
art historian specialising in 20th century Romanian art. She received a B.A. in art history from the National University of Arts in Bucharest and an M.A. in semiotics from the University of Tartu. She has been working as curator at the ‘Carol I’ Museum of Brăila, Romania, since 2011. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in art history at the National University of Arts in Bucharest, with a thesis focusing on Socialist Realism and modernist revival in the Romanian art of the 1960s and 1970s. Her research interests include modernist art theory, Socialist Realism and its philosophical foundations, socialist modernity/modernism, artistic and cultural regionalism.
received her Ph.D. from the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Her doctoral thesis deals with the subject of East German women photographers (Women Under Socialism: Both Sides of the Camera. Women Photographers and the Construction of Female Identity in the Photographic Representations of the GDR, c. 1949–1961). She is the co-author of Evelyn Richter. Arrested Time (2002). Her special area of interest includes conceptual and gender political issues in contemporary art and photography. Since 2017 she has been a curator of modern and contemporary art at Wilhelm-Hack-Museum in Ludwigshafen, Germany.
film expert, professor at the Łódź Film School. She specialises in the history of Polish cinema and minority cinema. Her works include three books devoted to female directors, including Wszystko o Ewie. Filmy Barbary Sass a kino kobiet II połowy XX wieku (2013); Biały mazur. Kino kobiet w polskiej kinematografii (2013); Wanda Jakubowska. Od nowa (2015) and numerous articles and essays about the film. In 2014 she received the Polish Film Institute Award. She has been nominated for the Bolesław Michałek Award, granted by Kino monthly, twice. She contributes to Krytyka Polityczna and works for gender balance in the film industry. Member of the European Women’s Audiovisual Network (EWA), Women’s Film Movement, Polish Female Filmmakers Association and FIPRESCI.
an associate professor at the university Paris-Est Créteil in France. He works on the social history of visual arts and architecture in different communist contexts. He wrote his Ph.D. dissertation about East Germany and he now works on case studies in Soviet Union and Italy. He published Réalisme et égalité. Une histoire sociale de l’art en République Démocratique Allemande (1949–1990) (2015). Editor with Pascal Dubourg Glatigny and Piotr Piotrowski Art Beyond Borders. Artistic Exchanges in Communist Europe (1945–1989) (2016).
art historian, curator at the Zachęta — National Gallery of Art. Her main research area is 20th-century Polish art, with a focus on the post-war period. Author and co-author of numerous exhibitions, e.g. Andrzej Wróblewski 1927–1959 (2007); The Map. Artistic Migrations and the Cold War (2013); Cosmos Calling! Art and Science in the Long 1960s; Just After the War (2015), Poland — a Country of Folklore? (2016), The Future Will Be Different. Visions and Practices of Social Modernisation (2018); Puppets: Theatre, Film, Politics (2019) and editor of their accompanying publications. Laureate of the Jerzy Stajuda Prize for Art Criticism (2015).
art historian and philosopher. His research includes modern and contemporary artistic practices, presented in cultural, economic and socio-political contexts. Author of the book Modernizm artystyczny i powtórzenie. Próba reinterpretacji (2008), editor of volumes: Sztuki w przestrzeni transmedialnej (2010); Skuteczność sztuki (2014), Socrealizmy i modernizacje (with Aleksandra Sumorok, 2017); Wideo w sztukach wizualnych (with Ryszard W. Kluszczyński, 2018); Galeria Wschodnia. Dokumenty 1984–2017 / Documents 1984–2017 (with Daniel Muzyczuk, 2019).
she teaches art history at Birkbeck College, University of London. She was curator of the National Museum in Warsaw (1981–1993). Between 2009–2011, she returned to this Museum as its Deputy Director. She was a Visiting Professor in the Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte at the Humboldt Universität Berlin (2009, and 2013/14). Her publications include: Europäische Malerei aus dem Nationalmuseum Warschau (1988); Trionfo barocco (1990); Borders in Art: Revisiting Kunstgeographie (2000); National Museum in Warsaw Guide: Galleries and Study Collections (with Dorota Folga-Januszewska, 2001); Jan Matejko’s ‘Battle of Grunwald’: New Approaches (2010); Kantor Was Here: Tadeusz Kantor in Great Britain (with Natalia Zarzecka, 2011); From Museum Critique to the Critical Museum (2015), co-edited with Piotr Piotrowski. Her current research project examines the image of Eastern Europe in 20th-century visual media.
conference concept: Jérôme Bazin, Joanna Kordjak
co-organizers: Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Paris-Est Créteil University
partner: National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute
27.05 – 19.09.2021Cold RevolutionCentral and Eastern European Societies in Times of Socialist Realism, 1948–1959
The curators of the exhibition undertake a critical reflection on the changes taking place at that time, illustrating their scale and dynamics using visual material from the fields of painting, photography, film, design and architecture. It includes over 400 works from six countries of the former Eastern Bloc: Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary.Zachęta – National Gallery of ArtZachęta