10 impressionist paintings showing Soviet life through rose-tinted spectacles

Yuri Pimenov towed the party line when it came to Soviet realism – he created scenes from idyllic life in the USSR, the Zeitgeist - but are is scenes accurate?

1. ‘Triptych. Workers of the Uralmash Plant,’ 1934

Left part: Theater
Central part: Workers at Uralmash
Right part: Tea time

Labor feats were among the main topics focused on by Soviet artists. Yuri Pimenov was among those who glorified the life of heroic workers. The three parts of this canvas show women in the theater, at work, and drinking tea at home.

2. ‘New Moscow,’ 1937

Probably the most famous painting by Yuri Pimenov is his “New Moscow,”' an example of quintessential socialist realism. In the 1930s Pimenov painted many beautiful views of Moscow, which was undergoing massive renovation work, spearheaded by Stalin. A woman driving was a rare thing and symbolised a new era. The painting is an optimistic view of the future, while in reality the 1930s were the darkest years of Stalin’s purges.

3. ‘Front Road,’ 1944

In the 1940s Pimenov turned to portraying war. In this image showing the frontline of WWII the artist uses the same composition evident in his “New Moscow” work. The method highlights the contrast between war and peacetime. There is no happy future ahead – only war.

4. ‘Spring Window,’ 1948

The artist once recalled he was once asked why he always drew women workers in dirty clothes. People thought it was a state order, but Pimenov saw poetry in grubby overalls.

5. ‘District of Tomorrow,’ 1957

All official Soviet art was essentially propaganda and artists were encouraged to romanticize the massive construction works of the post-war 1950s. People looking forward to a new life tomorrow were depicted by Pimenov.

6. ‘Waiting,’ 1959

When Khrushchev's Thaw started, Pimenov turns his attention to psychology, showing ordinary people's feelings and emotions.

7. ‘Wedding on Tomorrow Street,’ 1962

Pimenov and his peers created an association of artists who reflected the ideas of communism and socialism in their works. Happy healthy people and the building of a new country – just like on this canvas.

8.‘Morning in the city,’1964

Pimenov dedicated a series of paintings, New Districts, to housing construction. And he never gave up drawing his favorite Moscow sketches.

9. ‘Lyrical Housewarming,’ 1965

And what happens after big construction works end? People move from crowded dorms and communal living areas into their own new apartments. Finally they have space for a private life.

10. ‘Stewardess,’ 1973

Pimenov called himself a “realistic impressionist.” He wanted to catch every single moment: From how people started their mornings to how they traveled back home. Loads of his paintings also portrayed Moscow’s contrasting cityscapes.

Read more: How to become an expert in Russian art

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