A common stereotype about today’s Russian women is that they’re soft, feminine, and ideally suited to life at home. However, in Soviet times, Vladimir Lenin decried housework as “barbaric, unproductive, petty,” and the Soviet Constitution of 1918 proclaimed that men and women should have equal access to jobs and education. The result was a massive increase of women in the workforce, and by the 1950s, the Soviet Union had the highest percentage of working women.
The Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis, MN explores this unique time period with “Women in Soviet Art,” an exhibit featuring 60 post-World War II paintings by over 50 artists.
“Drawn primarily from the collection of museum founder Ray Johnson and his wife, Susan, the show loosely tracks the lives and aspirations of Soviet women under the governance of Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev,” the Star Tribune reports.
Thanks to the 1918 decree, Soviet women could, and often did, hold jobs traditionally reserved for men. This social reality is reflected in the exhibit with paintings showing women employed as fish mongers, carpenters, pilots, factory workers, and more. Other paintings show life outside the workplace with women reading, skiing, and enjoying a rare bit of leisure time.
Check out The Museum of Russian Art and the Star Tribune for more information and sample paintings from the exhibit. “Women in Soviet Art” opened on June 15 and runs until November 22.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons