Fall 2024

Art and Revolution

Listed in: Russian, as RUSS-311


Catherine A. Ciepiela (Section 01)


At the turn of the twentieth century, Russia staged a revolution in the arts. In an atmosphere of social crisis, artists worked to shatter the wall between art and life – so that art might become more vital and relevant, and life might become more beautiful. How differently might nature, the city and man himself look? Can we access other dimensions? How can we more fully experience the world? This course introduces you to experiments in Russian writing, painting, theater and music that helped influence how we think of art today, such as Malevich’s Suprematism, the Ballets Russes and Soviet constructivism.

These artists’ faith in creative freedom meant that they followed their own paths, and the amazing variety of their work is part of the story we will follow. We will experience that variety first-hand by working with objects from the Whitney Russian Collections. Thomas Whitney ‘37 gave to Amherst his collection of Russian books, housed in the Amherst Center for Russian Culture (Webster Building); we will work with fine art journals from the period and very rare, handmade books by the Russian futurists. Whitney’s Russian art collection, held at the Mead Museum, features major artists of many schools. Work in the course will involve researching an object from the collections and making a presentation on it, either in the mode of scholarship or performance. The course requires no prior knowledge of Russian culture or the arts.

Offered Fall 2024. Professor Ciepiela.

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Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: Students can expect to engage in group work, oral presentations, artistic work, visual analysis, and independent research

Course Materials


Other years: Offered in Spring 2014, Fall 2024