Survey of Arts Management

Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014

12 Labors of Putin

So, Putin turned 62 yesterday and, for his birthday, one Moscow art gallery gave him this. An exhibit of paintings depicting Putin completing the “12 dangerous actions” that were originally tasked to Hercules. Ummmmm…? Let’s just let the (amateur) paintings speak for themselves.

Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014Putin Gallery Rosenberg 6 October 2014

We can all agree that this is really weird, right? I’m speaking specifically about the content. The use of art to celebrate a nation’s leader is actually really cool – something we’ve done in America for centuries. However, that doesn’t make these art works any less ridiculous (notice the American Flag in the last painting).

Would you oversee a museum with work like this if the pay was good? Or if all the artwork had Obama instead of Putin?

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6 comments on “12 Labors of Putin

  1. shrulala
    October 8, 2014

    Well honestly I doubt it would occur to artists to even paint Obama in this form! Putin lends himself to adulation like most dictators. One of my friends who is an artist did paint Obama on a dress to celebrate his inauguration and wore the dress to one of the balls during the first election. http://www.lolalombard.com/lolalombard.com/OBAMA_INAUGURAL_GOWN.html

  2. cayleycarroll
    October 8, 2014

    Yes, we can definitely agree this is weird. Apparently there is a Putin personality cult in Russia…and I guess that is where this stuff stems from? This article claims Putin isn’t really digging the idolization:

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/SB1034027667593147440

    Personally, I think some Obama paintings in this heroic style would be a delight.

    • amyjoforeman
      October 10, 2014

      If an Obama Adoration Gallery pops up, we’re going.

  3. yaoge2016
    October 10, 2014

    If the paintings were given by some artists, who wanted to express their admiration or other feelings for Putin, I would view it rational, for it’s their freedom to create art works in their own way. However, the weird thing in the situation is that it’s museum who gave those flattering paintings to the Russian leader. Museums are for the public, and its role is preservation and education. And the behavior are totally against the role. Maybe next time, Russian museums could whitewash themselves by not involving into this situation.

    • amyjoforeman
      October 10, 2014

      Right?! I get that art can be a great medium for discussing politics, but the intentions behind producing this art do not seem authentic.

  4. benjamendouglas
    October 13, 2014

    I’d like to believe that this was done in jest; that they’re subversive, and you have to be on the inside to know it’s actually a stab at him, rather than adoration.

    But – is this really all that different from our series of sculptures of dead generals on horses?

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