Art for the Workers

Proletarian Art and Festive Decorations of Petrograd, 1917-1920


Art for the workers explores the mythology and reality of post-revolutionary proletarian art in Russia as well as its expression in the festive decorations of Petrograd between 1917 and 1920. It covers this brief period chronologically, and so permits a close inspection of the development of artistic policies in Russia under the Provisional Government followed by the Bolsheviks. Specifically, this book focuses on the pre-and post-revolutionary debate about the nature of proletarian art and its role in the new Socialist society, particularly focusing on festive decorations, parades and mass performances as expressions of proletarian art and forms of propaganda.

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Natalia Murray, PhD (2015), Courtauld Institute of Art, is Associate Lecturer in the history of Russian art at the Courtauld and a Senior Curator, most recently at GRAD gallery. Her last major exhibition was Revolution. Russian Art. 1917–1932 (Royal Academy of Arts, February-April 2017). In 2012 she published a biography of Nikolay Punin (Brill).

Notes on Transliteration and Conventions
List of Illustrations
Abbreviations and Glossary


1 Roots of Proletarian Culture

2 Festivals and Proletarian Art under the Tsars and the Provisional Government

3 Narkompros versus Proletkult: Festivals and Proletarian Art after the Bolshevik Revolution

4 The Victory of Figuration Over Futurism: from Cultural Diversity to Military Parade

5 Street Art - Collective, Politicised: the New Public Spectacle


All interested in Russian history, 20th century art and culture, as well as cognitive art history and the role of art in society.
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