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Revolution: New Art for a New World

Margy Kinmoth’s documentary explores the effect and power of art within early 19th Century Russia


Margy Kinmonth’s documentary explores the effect and power of art within early 19th Century Russia. Filmed in Moscow, St. Petersburg and London, this documentary explores the impact and historical context of art created by Russia’s avant-garde artists, with a special focus on Malevich, Kandinsky, Filonov and Chagall.

The documentary itself is in-depth but not overly complicated, and can therefore be enjoyed by anyone—whether you’re an art history student or simply wish to learn more about the cultural impact of avant-garde art on politics and history. Interviews with various art curators are interwoven throughout the documentary, as well as interviews with the ancestors of various key figures in the movement, such as Nikolai Putin’s granddaughter, who explains that during the time that her grandfather was appointed by the Bolsheviks as an art critic the “attitude to the movement [was] changing greatly.”

The documentary also includes rare footage from archived films, as well as close-up inspection and analysis of the artwork itself, with a particular focus on the effect of brush-strokes and technique. The importance of this art is then explained in relation to the historical context of the affect of art at a time of political unrest.

Many shots of the beautiful Russian buildings have a Wes Anderson-like quality to them, portraying the beauty of Russian architecture alongside the beauty of its artwork. The effect of showing Russia and London today in contrast with still black and white images of how they appeared a hundred years ago adds an authenticity to the documentary, as does an interesting scene of art history students performing a role-play where they act out how Malevich’s famous Black Square painting would have been received by other artists and critics.

Overall, the documentary certainly achieves its aim of exploring “the liberating power of art and imagination over oppression,” with a wide range of artists being explored in relation to their contemporary political climate. It is focused and yet varied, bringing to life the excitement that would have been felt by these artists at a time of revolution and freedom.
Revolution: New Art for a New World premiers in cinemas on 10th November 2016, and I’d recommend booking ahead to avoid disappointment.

Revolution: New Art for a New World premiers at HOME mcr on 10th November 2016.