November 20, 2011 § 5 Comments
Today I visited the Vision and Communism display at The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago. http://smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/
This display features original art by the soviet artist and designer Viktor Koretsky (1909-1998). Koretsky’s art features bold and powerful images that were often violent in nature. As a communist, Koretsky saw the United States as the enemy and displayed this prominently in his art. Other themes that were prominent include anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, anti-Nazism, apartheid, slavery, racism, and oppression. These are not the kinds of images that had been presented to the public in western nations during the same time period.
From an artistic standpoint, Koretsky used several elements repeatedly in his art that brought unity to this display. Typograhy was used in most of the images presented. Phrases such as “imperialism is war” provided a basis for the meaning of the image. These words were often shaped to almost hide among other shapes in the art.
Symbolism was frequently used. Koretsky often used the dollar sign ($) to represent his view of the United States as economic imperialists. The white hooded faces of clan members represent racism. Chains represent slavery and bondage both literally and figuratively. Lines of workers holding tools represent the unity and power of the working class. Oppressors were often presented with traces of blood on their fingertips and boot.
Koretsky’s images were largely black and white with one or two accent colors. The use of color served two purposes. First, the limited use of color worked well with the lithographic printing of posters. Second, the black and white portion of the image retained the emotion of the image while the accent color provided the drama.
While I anticipated that my visit to Koretsky’s art display would be interesting, I did not expect the emotions that the art evoked from me. Most of the art that I have viewed in the past have been bright, colorful, and mostly cheery. Koretsky’s art was dark and ominous. I left the museum feeling sad for the history of the world.
As a people, we have not treated each other very well. I am afraid this fact has not changed in modern times. We still have war. We still abuse, mistreat, and kill each other for power and economic gain. I wonder if there will ever truly be peace on earth.