Soviet War Memorials and the Men Who Made Them

29 May 2018, 17:15 - 18:45

SG2 Alison Richard Building

A public lecture organised by the Beyond the Cold War: Toward a Community of Asia project.

Alone among European countries, the Soviet Union did not commemorate World War I, a conflict it considered bourgeois and imperialist. Yet by the end of World War II, monuments to the heroism of Red Army soldiers were being erected from Berlin to Pyongyang that looked a lot like the earlier European models. Why did Soviet war memorials follow classical examples, eshewing any avant-garde influence? And why are so many more being built today in a style that often strikes foreign observers as being bombastic and antiquated – most recently at Russia's new national cemetery outside Moscow? To answer these questions, this lecture will look at the evolution of Russian military art from pre-revolutionary times to today. It will focus particularly on the crucial role of Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, the celebrated military and political leader who was also the Soviet Union's most powerful patron of the arts, and his network of artistic clients: a male-only coterie of sculptors, architects and painters who despised modernist, non-figurative art, were often conservative and nationalistic, and established the army as a reliable source of commissions that allowed them to circumvent regular artistic institutions.

The lecture would be of particular interest to specialists in Russian/Soviet history, military history, memory studies as well as the history of art and architecture. It would also be of interest to a general audience interested in soviet history and art. 

The speaker, Mischa Gabowitsch, is a contemporary historian and sociologist specialising in Soviet war memorials, and the study of protest and social movements in Russia. He is a research fellow at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam, Germany and the author/editor of several books in English, German and Russian.

This is a FREE EVENT but places are limited, so please register to secure a place.

For queries, contact Una Yeung