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The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-Garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and Beyond

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  185 ratings  ·  12 reviews
As communism collapses into ruins, Boris Groys provokes our interest in the aesthetic goals pursued with such catastrophic consequences by its founders. Interpreting totalitarian art and literature in the context of cultural history, this brilliant essay likens totalitarian aims to the modernists' demands that art should move from depicting to transforming the world. The r ...more
Hardcover, 126 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Princeton University Press (first published January 1st 1988)
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Kaarel Viljaste
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Äärmiselt sorav ja meeldiv lugemine, mõnusad mõlgutused ja mõttekäigud. Kogu stalinistlik režiim kui kunstiteos, mõtleks vaid! Siiski kadus kohati Mikita kanti ja jäi ehk toppama või läks natuke ulmeliseks. Muidu väga soe!
John Pistelli
Back to Boris Groys—we've been here before. The Russian-born art theorist's first major book appeared as Gesamtkunstwerk Stalin in German in 1988 and was published in Charles Rougle's English translation in 1992—"[a]s communism collapses into ruins," or so the jacket copy proclaims. Its very appearance, thin like a volume of poetry, tells us that it is a work of aesthetic philosophy, not art history. Groys's sweeping and summary treatment of individual artists and artworks may therefore annoy th ...more
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A total banger - I wrote down many pages of quotes from this one.
Sergey Lebedenko
Что бы вышло, если бы в мультике про Пинки и Брейна главными героями были Сталин и Малевич.
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
I will add more to this review in time, but suffice it to say this book, which for a long while has been considered the final word on Socialist Realism alongside Katerina Clark's magnificent "The Soviet Novel", is at best misguided and often delusional. Operating from stereotypes about the period and his not-so-subtle disdain for the Soviet Union, Groys makes increasingly wild assertions (and almost always without citations) to paint socialist realism as entirely based in the will of a single in ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Nov 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theory
This study is itself a complete work of art, written in a compelling style and filled to the brim with counter-intuitive insights . . . and yet it strangely turns things on their head by positing aesthetic discourse as the primary driving spirit behind developments in Soviet history.
James Payne
All killer, no filler.
Anja Weber
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Boris Groys / ART UTOPIA

Boris Groys in circles of philosophers, aestheticians and art historians as one of the most influential theorists of post-modernity. Veovatno that his back ground intellectually, a mathematician by training, linguist, semiotician would say we have a vocation; affect the precision of the analytical approach to the work of art in the book before us: "The Art of Utopia." About that Boris will say that is a collection of essays, written laconica
Stevphen Shukaitis
Jun 22, 2009 rated it liked it
This is a clever, provocative book. The argument that Stalinism is the heir of the avant-garde desire to erase boundary between art and everyday life and to radically reshape society is quite interesting. It does a very good job of debunking the 'myth of the innocent avant-garde.' But I think Groys' argument is perhaps a bit too simplistic and runs rough shod over the liberatory potential of Russian avant-garde currents. In this sense the stripping away and reduction of the avant-garde during th ...more
Ivan Labayne
Jan 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: teyorya
Most things seem mussed in this book -- I'm not so sure if Groys truly understands and delineates the various long words and seemingly tough categories he deploys here -- except for his discreet dislike of Stalin and his era. And even regarding that part -- that dislike -- Groys seems non-committal to elaborate. His words are left scattered then in the end. And the mess does not do anything ...more
Maksim Karpitski
One shouldn't trust Groys but it would be a blunder to overlook his work (wildly innacurate at times and with little to no evidence of 'proper academic research', but also full of insightful, thought-provoking observations and simply a good read). ...more
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Boris Efimovich Groys (born 19 March 1947) is an art critic, media theorist, and philosopher. He is currently a Global Distinguished Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies at New York University and Senior Research Fellow at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design in Karlsruhe, Germany. He has been a professor of Aesthetics, Art History, and Media Theory at the Karlsruhe University of Arts an ...more

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