EXH: Lenin Lives, The Van Every/Smith Galleries, Davidson College (August 17-October 8, 2017)

Yelena Kalinsky's picture

Lenin Lives

August 17 – October 8, 2017
The Van Every/Smith Galleries, Davidson College


One hundred years after the Russian Revolution, Lenin Lives, co-curated by Lia Newman, Gallery Director/Curator, and Roman Utkin, Assistant Professor of Russian Studies, explores the afterlife of one of the most enduring and spectacular personality cults of modern history – the worship of the first Soviet leader, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyano – Lenin (1870-1924). As the myth of the immortal Lenin developed, the image of the Revolution’s iconic leader became, not ironically, larger than life. For the rest of the tumultuous twentieth century, Lenin came to embody the idea of communism and the Revolution itself.

Although the ideological charge of Leninism lost much of its potency after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Lenin continues to attract cultural producers across the world. This exhibition displays the metaphoric potential of Lenin’s public image today by probing the tension between the Revolution’s promise of a better world and the trauma wreaked in the process of fulfilling this promise.

The fourteen artists presented here experiment with canonical images of Lenin in varying media and instill them with new meaning. Unlike the Soviet depictions of Lenin that were sanctioned by the Party and produced to communicate a single unquestionable truth about the Leader’s greatness, the art gathered in Lenin Lives compels the viewer to look beyond the familiar. These Lenins subvert propaganda and instead prompt questions about history, society, art, and ideology.

Featured Artists

Yuri Avvakumov, Emmanuil Evzerikhin, Yevgeniy Fiks, Cynthia Gutierrez, Alexander Kasolapov, Victoria Lomasko, Davide Monteleone, Larry Rivers, Dread Scott, Leonid Sokov, Oleg Vassiliev, Masha Vlasova, Andy Warhol, and Liliya Zalevskaya

Lenin Lives, the brochure, and all related programming, are projects of the Van Every/Smith Galleries, under the Department of Art, with support from the Bacca Humanities Development Fund, the Herb Jackson and Laura Grosch Gallery Endowment, the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, Bank of America Lecture Series, the Department of Art, the Russian Studies Department, and Davidson College Friends of the Arts.

Related Programming:

Panel Discussion: with guest artists, moderated by Roman Utkin, Assistant Professor of Russian Studies
Thursday, August 31, 6pm
Semans Lecture Hall, Belk Visual Art Center

Opening Reception
Thursday, August 31, 7-8:30pm
Belk Visual Art Center

Lecture: Painting Lenin After Lenin
Molly Brunson, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures and History of Art, Yale University
Wednesday, September 6, 7:30pm
Semans Lecture Hall, Belk Visual Art Center

Coffee + Conversation: Tyler Starr, Professor of Art
Tuesday, September 12, 4:30pm
Smith Gallery
Starr will discuss propaganda posters on view in Revolution on Display: Soviet Propaganda Posters. The discussion will include an explanation of printmaking techniques and a visit to the print shop.

Film: Good Bye Lenin! dir. Wolfgang Becker (2003)
Wednesday, September 27, 7:30-9:30
Semans Auditorium, Belk Visual Art Center
Introduction and post-film discussion led by Maggie McCarthy, Professor of German Studies and Coordinator for Film and Media Studies

Art on Campus: El Lissitzky: Victory Over the Sun 
September 6 – December 8, 2017, 8am-5pm
Spencer Lobby, Chambers Building
Lithographs on loan from Nancy Greystone and Jerry Pomerantz


Exhibition Reception – Thursday, February 9, 7-8:30pm; gallery talk at 7pm, Belk Visual Arts Center