Throughout many decades of the 20th century artists in Russia experienced pressure from the Soviet regime. Those who did not want to conform to constraints were doomed to become representatives of unofficial art. Many others accepted the norms established by creative unions and become known as socialist realist painters. Some preferred to pursue purely pictorial art, staying away from ideological messages. Representatives of all these facets of Russian art during Soviet times can be categorized as Soviet painters.
A well-known Soviet painter is Alexander Deyneka (1899 - 1969), who was also a graphic artist and sculptor. His mosaics decorate the Moscow metro. His monumental works, such as “The Defence of Petrograd” (1928), and “The Battle of Sevastopol” (1942) are some of the most iconic Soviet paintings of the period. Both Deyneka’s talent and art legacy was underestimated during his lifetime. But today his art arouses great interest and is considered as the face of Soviet art. He himself is one of the most revered Soviet painters.
Soviet painters whose art was known much better abroad rather than in their native country at the peak of their creative careers were non-conformists. Artists who did not wish to conform to the constraints of Socialist realist art were deprived of the opportunity to officially sell their work or to exhibit in their native country. One of the most infamous underground exhibitions of works of Soviet painters took place in 1974, and made headlines in the international press. Even though it took place in open air and there was no law prohibiting underground art exhibitions in the open air, it was suppressed by the authorities, but brought worldwide fame to a group of participating artists headed by Oscar Rabin.
Oscar Rabin is one of the famous Soviet painters
to date. By depicting his favorite composition technique - placing an object or a figure in a black contour against the backdrop of a gloomy landscape under a moon and his favorite objects - bottles, lamps, labels, piles of garbage, and crumpled banknotes - he expressed the rebellious spirit of art of that period.