Architecture and Revolution: Contemporary Perspectives on Central and Eastern Europe

By Neil Leach | Go to book overview

4

A postmodern critic's kit for interpreting socialist realism

Augustin Ioan

Figure 4.1 Publishing House, Bucharest, an example of Stalinist architecture

In comparing Soviet socialist realism, which was popular between roughly 1932 and 1954, and postmodernism, which flourished and then largely faded away in the 1980s, one is forced to address certain points in common which shed a certain reciprocal light on their individual characteristics. 1 This text will focus on their opposition to the avant-garde and modernism respectively, as the possible primary generator for both 'styles', an opposition which is based on the question of 'identity'. Their common antipathy to modernism, and their shared use of the classical language of architecture, and of realism from the world of art, will then be analysed as mechanisms for reviving a popular adherence to certain systems of values and power which underpin both discourses. As a large amount of contemporary literature exists on postmodernism, our primary interest will lie in socialist realism. The latter will be read through the lens of concepts usually associated with the former. This will inevitably lead to a slightly

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