HISTORICAL DATES
International Chamber of Russian Modernism

1905
Civil unrest throughout the year, called the First Russian Revolution.
January 9
General strike in St. Petersburg and Bloody Sunday.
June
Crew of the Battleship Potemkin mutinies.
December
General strike in Moscow.

1913
300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty.

1914
August 1
Germany declares war on Russia. All foreign nationals must return to their native country.

1916
December
Rasputin is assassinated.

1917
February 7 / 12 March, the February Revolution.
General strike declared in St. Petersburg.
March 15
Czar Nicholas II abdicates, ending the Russian monarchy. He changes the name of St. Petersburg to Petrograd. A Provisional Government is formed under Prince G. Lvov.
June
First All-Russian Congress of Soviets meets in Petrograd.
July
Coalition Government formed under Alexander Kerensky.
October
2nd All-Russian Congress of Soviets meets in Petrograd and grants total power to the Soviet.
October 25-26 (7-8 November, Julian calendar)
October Revolution by the Bolsheviks establishes the Soviet regime.
November
Lenin signs armistice ending Russian participation in the World War.
Anatoli Lunacharsky is appointed Commissar of the Peoples Commissariat of Enlightenment / Narodnyi komissariat prosveshcheniia, or Narkompros, which replaces the former Ministry of Culture.

1918
January 29
Department of Visual (or Plastic) Arts, Otdel izobrazitelnykh iskusstv, IZO, established within Narkompros, headed by David Shterenberg. Artists are given official posts for the reorganisation of the arts institutions. Vladimr Tatlin, Vasily Kandinsky, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Kazimir Malevich, Liubov Popova, Ivan Kliun, Aleksei Morgunov, et al. elected to the Moscow section.
January-February
Uprising of the White Army on the Don River and in the Northern Caucasus, starting the Civil War. It lasts until November 1920.
February 1
Change from the Gregorian calendar to the Julian calendar, making it 14 February.
March 12
Government moves from Petrograd to Moscow, which becomes the capital city of Russia.
July
The Imperial family is executed.
October
Communist Youth organisation, Komsomol, founded.
The reorganised art schools State Free Art Studios, SVOMAS open. In Moscow it is housed in the former School of Painting, Sculpture and Drawing and the Stroganov School. In Petrograd it is housed in the Imperial Academy of Art.
Nationalisation of all private collections. That of Sergei Shchukin becomes the First Museum of New Western Painting, and that of Ivan Morosov becomes the Second Museum of New Western Painting. In 1923 these collections were divided up between the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the Hermitage in Petrograd.

1919
The Civil War continues across Russia; it causes great penury and food shortages.
March
The Communist International, the Comintern, established in Petrograd.
Summer
Museum of Artistic Culture, Moscow, opens with holdings of 80 paintings which had been acquired by the Purchasing Committee, of which Vasily Kandinsky was the head.

1920
November
The Civil War ends in European Russia when Red Army occupies the Crimea.

1921
March 17
New Economic Policy, NEP, set up by Lenin. It makes partial concessions to the free enterprise system, a liberalisation of the Bolshevik regime.
April 21
Museum of Artistic Culture in Petrograd opens, with holdings of 257 works by 69 artists of Russian painting from c. 1905 to the present (1921). It includes a small collection of icons and folk art. The Museum had three sections: Painting-Cultural, Drawings, and Production Art. By 1925 it would house 1,473 works of art.
November
Sailors at Kronstadt mutiny.

1922
May
First exhibition of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia, AKhRR, who champion "heroic Realism", paintings and sculptures glorifying the Soviet leaders, peasants, and proletariat.
June 22–12 July
Third Congress of the Comintern, Moscow and Petrograd.
December 30
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) established.

1923
March
First issue of LEF / Left Front of the Arts, published; Vladimir Mayakovky is the Editor.
Spring
State Institute of Artistic Culture, GINKhUK, established in Petrograd within the Museum of Artistic Culture. It is formally ratified in 1924.
September
First Agricultural and Handcraft-Industrial Exhbition, Moscow.

1924
January 21
Lenin dies. Petrograd is renamed Leningrad.
During the year, Stalin and Trotsky compete for power, with Stalin gaining increasing control.

1925
April
International Exhibition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Art, Paris. The Committee for the Soviet Pavilion includes David Shterenberg, Alexandra Exter, Aleksandr Rodchenko, et al.
June 18
"On Party Policy in Literature", published by the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

1926
September
VKhUTEMAS replaced by VKhUTEIN, Higher State Artistic and Technical Institute.

1927
Spring
New LEF, New Left Front of the Arts, begins publication in Moscow under Vladimir Mayakovsky. Until 1928.
November 12
Stalin expels Trotsky from the Communist Party.
December
Alfred H. Barr Jr., Director of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, visits Moscow.

1928
April
The First Five-Year Plan adopted at the 16th Party Congress.
October
The First Five-Year Plan begins, with a drive towards rapid industrialisation and collectivization. It causes great food shortages throughout 1929.

1929
During the year, the Museums of Artistic Culture are ordered to take down all hangings of the new art – Cubism, Futurism, Suprematism, Non-Objectivity, Constructivism, etc. – and to put the works into the reserves. This was the official end of the Russian Avant-Garde.
January 31
Trotsky is deported from the USSR.
September
Lunacharsky is forced to resign as Commissar for Enlightenment.
November
Stalin takes full control of the Party and the country.

1930
Early to Spring
Purge of IZO Narkompros with accusations of personnel lacking Marxist ideology.
April 14
Vladimir Mayakovsky commits suicide In Moscow.
September-December
Kazimir Malevich is arrested by the OGPU and detained in a Leningrad prision and questioned about "formalism" – i.e., abstract art.

1931
May
RAPKh, Russian Association of Proletarian Artists, is founded and declares art as "ideology, as a revolutionary weapon in the class struggle".

1932
March
The Party publishes the decree, On Poster and Picture Production. It criticises anti-Soviet posters and paintings.
April
– The First Five-Year Plan is completed and the Second is inaugurated.
– On the Reconstruction of Literary and Artistic Organisations published by the Party. All the artists' unions are officially dissolved and they are replaced by the Union of Soviet
Artists.

1933
August
The White Sea Canal is completed.

1934
August-September
Decision taken by First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers that "Truth and historical concreteness of the artistic depiction of reality must be combined with the task of the ideological transformation and education of the workers in the spirit of Socialism.". Following the Congress, the State laid down four rules for what became known as "Socialist Realism":
1. Proletarian – Art must be relevant to the workers and understandable to them.
2. Typical – Scenes of every day life of the people.
3. Realistic – In the representational sense.
4. Partisan – Supportive of the aims of the State and the Party.
Socialist Realism was now the exclusive and only admissable style for painters, writers, composers, and so on, with art officially an instrument of the State. As Stalin put it, socialist realist painters are the "engineers of souls".

1936 to 1938
Nikolai Punin, Alexander Drevin, et al., were arrested, detained for questioning about their views on Cézanne, Picasso, and abstract art (formalism), and eventually died in the gulag. The same thing happened to a number of writers including Benedikt Livshits, Sergei Tretiakov. Dmitri Shostakovich was severely reprimanded.

Compiled by Patricia Railing

SOME SOURCES
John E. Bowlt, "Chronology" in Russian Avant-Garde The Geroge Costakis Collection. General Editor: Angelika Zander Rubenstine. New York: Harry S. Abrams, 1981.
Russian and Soviet Views of Modern Western Art, 1890s to Mid-1930s. Edited by Ilia Dorontchenkov. Translated by Charles Rougle. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009.

   

 

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