Smart Museum of Art: Revolution Every Day


SEPTEMBER 14, 2017–JANUARY 14, 2018


Left: Aleksandr Deineka, Work, Build and do Not Moan!, 1933; Right: Mariia Bri-Bein, Working Women Fight for a Clean Canteen and Healthy Food, 1931

Presented on the centenary of the 1917 Russian Revolution, this exhibition immerses visitors in the distinct textures and speeds of everyday life that arose—and have lingered stubbornly—in the wake of revolutionary upheaval.

Revolution Every Day juxtaposes works of Soviet graphic art—primarily posters from the 1920s and 1930s, many by female artists such as Valentina Kulagina—with works on video and film, including excerpts from Dziga Vertov’s documentary films from the 1930s, post-Soviet videos by artists like Olga Chernysheva, as well as a new commission by Cauleen Smith. Focused on the experiences of women under (and after) communism, these works involve viewers in visual and aural conversations concerning the temporality of the everyday, revealing how socialist labor involves feats of endurance and patience as much as heroic action.

In its distinct approach to its subject, Revolution Every Day, much like the Smart’s 2011 exhibition Vision and Communism, undermines our readymade responses to the Russian Revolution and makes it possible for Western audiences to experience Soviet visual art anew.


Lene Berg, Mariia Bri-Bein, Olga Chernysheva, Aleksandr Deineka, Elizaveta Ignatovich, Gustav Klucis, Vitaly Komar, Viktor Koretsky, Valentina Kulagina, Anri Sala, Cauleen Smith, Dziga Vertov, and others.


The exhibition is accompanied by a unique publication inspired by the venerable tradition of Soviet and Russian tear-off calendars. The book has 365 calendar pages and features a diverse range of images and texts drawn from primary source materials that explore the historical and experiential dimensions of revolution. It will also feature essays and other original contributions from the curators, artists, and scholars. Published by the Smart Museum of Art in collaboration with Mousse. Available fall 2017.


In conjunction with the exhibition, the Smart Museum and Film Studies Center present the series Revolution Every Day: Dziga Vertov in the 1930s, three screenings of rarely seen “poetic documentary” films by the Soviet filmmaker. At the University of Chicago Library, the Special Collections Research Center presents a parallel exhibition Red Press: Radical Print Culture from St. Petersburg to Chicago (September 25, 2017–December 15, 2017).