Ars: časopis Ústavu Dejín Umenia Slovenskej Akadémie Vied — 1982

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The Birth and Pathways of the Soviet
The common sense notion of the Soviet science on art
is that of a homogeneous entity. It makes it appear as a static
phenomenon undergoing no change during the course of time
not only in its essence, but also in its tasks and their solutions.
Such a notion, however, résides in a lack of familiarity with the
subject.
As a matter of fact, the Soviet science on art has a living and
dynamic history. It has gone through several —- at least four —
developmental stages. If we leave out of account its “prehistory”,
i.e. a) the development of Russian historiography of art in the
last third of the 19th Century, b) Russian science on art of the
early 2Oth Century before the Great October Socialist Revolution
which the Soviet science on art reacted upon and c) Marxist
thinking in prerevolutionary Russia as represented by both
Plekhanov and later particularly by Lenin and Lunacharsky, we
may divide it roughly as follows: Stage I: The twenties — birth
of the Soviet science on art; Stage II: The thirties (up to the
outbreak of World War II); Stage III: The postwar period (up
to the XXth congress of the Communist Party of the USSR);
Stage IV : The second half of the fifties and the sixties.
The history of Soviet artistic thinking, however, is not of an
anarchistic character with self-purposeful or purely immanent

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Art Historical Methodology
transformations. Changes in the Soviet science on art are not
autonomous, they hâve not become an end to themselves •—
change for the sake of change. Nor do they involve movements
from one extreme to the other; we find here no alternation of
absolutization always from a different aspect of reality. These
traits had in some measure been present in the Russian science on
art of the 19th and 20th Century and in the twenties during the
period of the postrevolutionary searching.
Beginning with the thirties, the historical transformations
in the Soviet science on art are balanced with constants that speak
for a firm social bond and laws. Ultimately, the historical trans-
formations in Soviet artistic thinking take place on a common
platform of dialectical materialism and Marxist sociology and
tend towards a common goal — an universal appréhension of art
as a social phenomenon. Hence, the constants of the Soviet
science on art are: materialist monism, a dialectico-sociological
appréhension of art; refusai of an autonomous and idealistic
treatment of artistic development; orienting towards a synthetical
image, based on a dialectical-materialist understanding of reality
and on historical-materialist interprétation of history; efforts at
a complex method of investigation, gnoseologic optimism;
conviction about objectivity being cognizable and about objecti-
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