‘Superwoman: Work, Build, And Don’t Whine’ Showcases The Changing Roles Of The Soviet Woman

From motherhood to working citizen, the expectations on Soviet women were incredibly burdensome.

Soviet Poster

Vera Mukhina created what is regarded as one of the most famous pieces of art from the Stalinist era. The 78-foot monument called Worker and Kolkhoz Woman depicts a powerful couple with arms raised, the man holding a hammer, the woman raising a sickle. Created for the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, it now exemplifies Joseph Stalin’s social realism, a style that allegedly benefits the art of the proletariat.

The image of the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman has been used for stamps and has even been made into the logo for Russia’s oldest film studio, Mosfilm. As the most celebrated of Mukhina’s pieces, it will be featured in the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design exhibition, Superwoman: Work, Build and Don’t Whine. The exhibition will focus on Soviet women iconography spanning the time between the 1917 October Revolution and the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.


The Worker and Kolkhoz Woman depicts man and woman, side by side, working towards the same goal. (source)

The united strength between man and woman that Mukhina presents represents the need for women to be fully invested in the work of developing the communist state, alongside their male partners. Though even Stalin’s predecessor Vladimir Lenin believed that the woman needed to occupy the same position as the man through her participation in common productive labor, the path for women was not necessarily an easy one, what with tribulations in rights to abortion that ran counter to the woman’s access to higher education.

The exhibition’s title comes from a poster created by Aleksandr Deyneka by the same name. The exhibition is intended to showcase the idealistic roles of women in terms of their duties to the state. The pieces displayed demonstrate how the expectations of women changed, and how women as mothers and as workers were burdened by industrialization and the Cold War.

Work, Build, and Don't Whine

Deyneka’s signature piece features a woman throwing a discus in a field entirely populated by men. (source)

The exhibition will be on display at the Gallery for Russian Arts and Design in London from June 18th to September 17th.

Photo source.


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