Monday, 8 December 2008

Socialist Realism

Like many other cities in eastern Europe during the communist era, Budapest was filled with socialist realist statues. These works glorified the proletariat and the Red Army "liberators" of Hungary, as well as the usual statues of Marx and Lenin.

Most of these statues were pulled down quickly after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. Hardly surprising after Hungary's experience under Soviet domination, including the Russian invasion of 1956.

Most cities destroyed their old communist statues, melting them down to make something more useful. However, Budapest had the foresight to preserve the old sculptures and put them on show in a statue park outside the city.

The park is marketed as pure communist kitsch, but I think that sells it short. There is a certain grandeur to these statues -- many of them are huge. But some of them are also successful as works of art, despite the political message that inspired them. I think my favourites are the first one shown above, which is an incredibly powerful image, and the last one below, with the repeating characters of the proletarian militia.


Anonymous said...

I was quite touched by your pictures and the obvious esthetic that you saw but most did not. I concur with your personal picks, the first and the last pictures are quite moving. Thank you for bringing them to our attention. Ann

Sir Fopling Flutter said...

Thanks for your comment. Good to see a new blogger from Maryland. By the way, I wrote a piece back in July on Baltimore.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

They are not so far removed from some of the WPA art of the Depression era here in America.