The father of our country, Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s G. Washington, struck an heroic pose while crossing the Delaware, David’s Napoleon on horseback had heroic moments, and Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People is the quintessential heroic image. So, who influenced whom?
These were Romantic depictions of the icons of American and French history—two real people and one symbolic personage—that defined a certain kind of heroic representation. But were they the sources—the father and mother—of the cliched socialist realism so popular during the Soviet era? Perhaps. There does seem to be a family resemblance.
The outstretched heroic arm. M. Kochergin, 1920.
The outstretched arm and pointing finger. O. Marenkov, 1921.
The outstretched arm holding a torch. O. Marenkov, 1921.
The determined gaze. N. Karpovsky, 1939.
The victorious arm and determined gaze. V. Lytvynenko, 1944.
The proud worker with telling arm. F. Samusev, 1946.
The joyful civilian with celebratory arm. V. Seleznyov, 1954.
The proud and stern gaze with clenched fist. I. Kruzhkov, 1950.
The patriotic stare. V, Lamakh, 1957.
The giant gesture. O. Kapitan, 1959.
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →