Vision and Communism

September 29, 2011 – January 22, 2012

The Soviet artist and designer Viktor Koretsky (1909–1998) created aggressive, emotionally charged images that articulated a Communist vision of the world utterly unlike that of conventional propaganda.

Koretsky's captivating scenes of survival and suffering were designed to create an emotional connection between Soviet citizens and others struggling for civil rights and independence around the globe. This vision of a multicultural world of shared sacrifice offered a dynamic alternative to the sleek consumerism of Madison Avenue and the West and, according to the curators, can be thought of "as a kind of Communist advertising for a future that never quite arrived."

Drawing on an extensive private collection of Soviet art and propaganda, this exhibition presents nearly ninety of Koretsky's posters, photographs, and original maquettes. It is the first major museum exhibition in the United States to focus on Koretsky, who remains largely unknown in the West. Together with a publication that explores the dissident public culture nurtured in the Soviet bloc and a screening of films by Aleksandr Medvedkin and Chris Marker, Vision and Communism offers a striking new interpretation of visual communication in the USSR and beyond.

Film Series

Medvedkin_Marker.jpgThe exhibition's themes are extended to cinema through screenings of the militant films of Aleksandr Medvedkin and Chris Marker at the University of Chicago's Film Studies Center.

In 1967 the French filmmaker Marker happened upon Medvedkin’s 1935 film satire Happiness and discovered for the world a lost giant of Soviet cinema. Featuring several films that have rarely, if ever, been shown in the United States, the screenings explore how Soviet vanguard cinema provided a model for Marker’s insurgent, grass-roots filmmaking in the West.

October 12, October 19, and November 2, 2011
7 pm
Film Studies Center, 5811 S. Ellis Avenue, C307

The series begins with Medvedkin’s early shorts and Marker’s films documenting the turmoil of 1968–1969. The second screening examines both filmmakers’ interest in the effects of Cold War politics on the Third World. The final screening presents Marker’s magisterial reflection on the history of the International Left, A Grin without a Cat (1977).

For a complete list of films and synopses, visit or call 773.702.8596.

Above: Logo for Medvedkin's film train in the 1930s.


Robert Bird, Associate Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, The University of Chicago; Christopher Heuer, Assistant Professor, Department of Art and Archaeology, Princeton University; Matthew Jesse Jackson, Associate Professor of Art History and the Department of Visual Arts, The University of Chicago; Tumelo Mosaka, Curator of Contemporary Art, Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Stephanie Smith, Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Smart Museum of Art; with Richard A. Born, Senior Curator, Smart Museum of Art, as coordinating curator.

Presented in the Richard and Mary L. Gray Gallery for Special Exhibitions.

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  • The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that presents a series of interconnected essays devoted to Viktor Koretsky’s art and the social worlds that it hoped to transform. Produced collectively by the exhibition curators, the book is published by The New Press.

    $24.95. Now available in the Smart Museum Shop.


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