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Workshop: Revolutionary Aesthetics

This workshop will explore modernist innovation in Russian literature and visual art during the 1910s and provide a link between aesthetic and political developments. The Russian Revolution of 1917 changed much more than “just” the political system. As an aesthetic and social experiment on a major scale, it constituted an attempt at creating a completely new culture from scratch, as well as a new human being – the “Soviet Man”. Those writers and artists who enthusiastically welcomed the revolution interpreted it as a culmination – or incarnation – of the developments that had irrevocably transformed Russian (and European) art during the 1910s, with movements such as Cubism and Futurism challenging perception in entirely new ways. What did writers and artists of the 1910s expect of their audiences? And why was modernist art in Russia susceptible to revolutionary fervour? This workshop explores Russian revolutionary aesthetics through the works of Belyi, Blok, Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov, Malevich and other key modernists.