Icons of Stalinism

Soviet Socialist Realism portrayed a godlike Maximum Leader reigning over a communist heaven

Russia has an inverse-survival law of political totems: the more images of a leader there were, the fewer there will be. Since 1989, cities from the Danube to the Urals have heard the liberating thud of bronze Lenins being pulled from their pedestals. But the biggest migration of images into oblivion began in 1956, three years after the Maximum Leader's death, when Nikita Khrushchev made a speech denouncing Joseph Stalin.

Throughout his rule, Stalin had sponsored a form of state art officially known as Socialist Realism. Geared to a naive, not to say brutish, mass public barely literate in artistic matters,...

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