State Institute of Art Studies, Russia
At the turn of the 1960s and the 1970s the new generation of the seventies came to stage. In contrast to the civil pathos of their predecessors young artists declared passeism and stylization. Renaissance art was one of the sources that shaped the “style” of such artists as D. Zhilinskyi, T. Nazarenko, O. Filatchev, etc.
However, the vision of these artists of the Renaissance art was stipulated for Soviet realities and ideology. An attempt to deconstruct this vision is made in the present report. It is based on the author’s conversations with the artists, as well as on the works of the art historian and influential pedagogue M. Alpatov.
Alpatov was certain that the comprehension of classical art depended less on the audience erudition and more on its “spiritual forces that would help it to ascend to the point, from which the most significant and beautiful things in the world could be seen”. In his lectures Alpatov attempted to help young artists to reach those heights by brilliant analysis of artistic forms, emotional perception of every detail and also by a special interpretation of the Renaissance masters’ ideology. Piero della Francesca in Alpatov’s sketches resembles the protagonist of the ideology of the 70s generation artists. He is depicted as a man of active civil stance, but not prone to political declamation, capable to experience strong emotions and ready to join the fight, but indifferent to accidental circumstances of everyday life. In his works Piero purposely idealizes his actual reality to inspire his contemporaries to realize the depicted ideal.
Alpatov’s interpretation of the 15th century artist reflected Soviet men’s image of the positive hero, formulated in the 1930s and actual up to the end of the 1980s. It is this “Soviet Piero” that was embraced and taken as a sample by young artists of the 70s. Partly because of this their art preserved such canonical aspects of socialist realism as idealization and tendentiousness.