Joods Historisch Museum | Jewish Historical Museum: The Power of Pictures

The Power of Pictures travels from the Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville, TN to the Joods Historisch Museum in Amsterdam.

The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography and Film

27 July until 27 November 2016

The Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam presents The Power of Pictures, an exhibition of photographs, films and film posters from the early years of the Soviet Union. This is the first exhibition in the Netherlands to bring together photography and cinema from the revolutionary Soviet avant-garde. It features work by more than twenty photographers and filmmakers, including Alexander Rodchenko, El Lissitzky, Arkadi Shaikhet, Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov.   

Buy your tickets online

The exhibition covers the period from the October Revolution in 1917 until 1940 and explores the emergence of a new Soviet style in the 1920s. Both photography and cinema underwent an artisticVarvara Stepanova, Sovetskoe Kino (Sovjetcinema), nr. 1, 1927, Amherst Center for Russian Culture, Amherst College, Massachusetts revolution through the use of new techniques such as collage, fast-paced editing and darkroom manipulations. These relatively new art forms blossomed under the patronage of the communist government, which saw photos and films - with images of heroic workers, military parades and mass sports events - as powerful propaganda tools. The fruitful interaction between artistic innovation and political activism in this period was unprecedented and had an influence on photography and cinema worldwide.

In the early 1930, under Stalin's dictatorship, Socialist Realism curbed artists' experimental freedom. However, the exhibition demonstrates that the artistic innovations of the 1920 remained visible in Soviet photography and film for many years.

This exhibition reveals for the first time that many of the Russian photographers and filmmakers of this period had Jewish backgrounds. As members of a recently emancipated minority, they enthusiastically embraced the revolution and the communist ideals that promised a new, egalitarian world.

Twelve films will be screened in rotation in exhibition, including Battleship Potemkin by Sergei Eisenstein. The Power of Picturesapp guides visitors through the exhibition's highlights. The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue, published by the Jewish Museum and Yale University Press.

The Power of Pictures: Early Soviet Photography and Film has been curated by the Jewish Museum in New York with loans from European and American collections. In addition to New York, it was also shown in Nashville, Tennessee. The exhibition was made possible with the generous support of the Eugene and Emily Grant Family Foundation, the David Berg Foundation, the Andrew and Marina Lewin Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Exhibition Fund. The catalogue is supported with endowment from the Dorot Foundation.