To the editor of Prism

Clive Patterson

St.Albans Art Society                                                                                                                


                                                                                                             Libuse Mikova-Mika



                                                                                                               AL3 4JR

                                                                                                               Tel.01727 864 257


Socialist Realism


This article is not an art history and historical analysis of Socialist Realism in the 20th century, but general information about the character of Socialist Realism, with particular attention to Czech Socialist Realism.


Socialistic Realism was the culturel epoch of the 20th century. It was set up after the Russian revolution of 1917, when Lenin and Stalin and their Russian communist party came to the power in Russia. The motto of Russian Socialist Realism was; We are loyal with Komsomol. We follow the deeds of heroes with work and fighting. We are loyal to the revolution of October, loyal to the gun, loyal to the people. We are Lenin pioneers.


Czech Socialist Realism started after the comunist putsch in 1948, when President Benes was replaced by the comunist leader Klement Gotwald. Socialist Realism was the state‘s official art. It was the new ideological doctrine which had to be respected by all official artists. These official artists were well paid and received government support. It was a very complex political and cultural situation in all communist countries under the dictate of Russia. The Socialist Realism in Czechoslovakia and the other socialist republics was nationalist, with artistic symbols of the country‘s heritage. Socialist Realism extended beyond Europe. In the International Youth Hostel in Cairo I saw an example of locally enhanced Socialist Realism. It was a wooden relief with motifs of workers with the factories behind them. One of them has a Pharoic skirt and a long arm which we can see on ancient Egyptian pictures.


In Czechoslovakia you could see Socialist Realism throughout the culture and daily life; panel houses, furniture, fashion, music, theatre, literature, visual art. Socialist Realism was figurative art without sex, with idealistic heroes working, fighting, governing, as happy families and in nature. The figures in the pictures looked to the horizon towards the beautiful future of Communism. The composition of the pictures was static, generally horizontal and vertical. The perspective was geometric or air perspective or coloured perspective. The artist used colours as political and ideological symbols. The avant-garde was forgotten. The colours were transparent with the dark conture around the objects. The Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 finished the epoch of Czech Socialist Realism and set up new forms of Socialist Realism with Russian artefacts: Lenin, Moscow, Kremlin, hammer and sickle.


Socialistic Realism was handcraft, not art. The artistic scenery in Czechoslovakia before 1968 and after was very complex. On the one side was Socialist Realism as the official art and on the other side independent non official artistic studios continuing at the European level. The artists who kept their work away from official Socialist art were in fact the avant-garde in Czechoslovakia before 1989 and after.


This historical epoch of Socialistic Realism has not been properly analysed. About five years ago in Prague there was an exhibition of Socialist Art in the Gallery Rudolfinum. In 2009 Russian Socialist Realism was exhibited in Cesky Krumlov in the Gallery of the academic painter Eugen Schiele. I found an article about Socialist Realism in a book in the Wren library in Cambridge and another

in the library in my own University of Applied Arts in Prague.


There are no studies of what happened to all the artists and their artistic works, who had not been loyal with the government and Socialist Realism. Some of these artists between 1948 – 1989 and after were persecuted and resorted to inner or outer emigration.  either withdrawing into privacy or leaving the country.


Dear readers, let me show you the pictures with the Czech, Egyptian and Russian Socialist Realism; The fresco in Smíchov railway station in Prague, the statue of a worker in the railway station in Pilzen, Cairo Youth Hostel, and a portrait of Lenin.




Libuse Mikova-Mika







Tel 01727 864 257