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Ernst Neizvestny’s Artworks as a Medium of Conveying Tragic Narrative - Focusing on ‘The Dead Soldier’ and ‘The Mask of Sorrow’ -

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2019, (73), pp.169-203
  • DOI : 10.31310/HUM.073.06
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : April 5, 2019
  • Accepted : May 8, 2019
  • Published : May 31, 2019

Lee Hoon Suk 1

1성균관대학교 인문학연구원

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This research article explores the stylistic features and themes of the artworks of a world-renowned Russian artist Ernst Neizvestny, especially his small statues made between the 1950s and the 1960s and public sculptures produced in the period of the 1990s-2010s in connection with the tragic incidents of Russian society in the mid-20th century. The main objective of the research is not only to examine the process of reproducing social suffering, which was generated by the tragedies of the Russian society in the middle of the 20th century like WWII and Stalin’s political terrorism, which were represented in Neizvestny’s artworks, but also to study the process of representation of the reproduced social suffering, which was conveyed to the members of the society, and its effect on the changes of contemporary Russian society. Small statues, created by Ernst Neizvestny in the 1950s-60s, directly reflect the scars and agonies of the war, which the artist experienced in his early ages. Nonetheless, his artworks were not permitted to be exhibited in his homeland of Russia until the collapse of the reign of the USSR because they went too far against the principle of socialist realism not only in terms of their styles but also their themes. Neizvestny had to flew from the USSR and seek asylum in the United States because of oppression from the authoritarian Soviet regime and could start to work in Russia again only after 1990. He made drafts of the monuments of the victims of state violence under Stalin, but the projects for establishing these monuments were confronted with lots of difficulties not only because of economic problems but also political issues. Part of the projects could not be realized until the death of the artist. Not only formalist analysis and iconological analysis, but also cultural sociological concepts, like cultural trauma, collective agent, progressive narrative and tragic narrative were actively used for defining the cultural and social values of the artworks in this article. The study of the Russian artworks from the perspective of cultural sociology not only makes us rediscover their value and meaning in art history but also can help us grasp the outlines for analyzing the cultural structure of contemporary Russian society, which is reflected in the artworks.

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