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Worker and Kolkhoz Woman

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman Reinstalled in Moscow

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (Russian: Рабо́чий и колхо́зница Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa) is a 24.5 meter (78 feet) high sculpture made from stainless steel by Vera Mukhina for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, and subsequently moved to Moscow. The sculpture is an example of the socialist realistic style, as well as Art Deco style. The worker holds aloft a hammer and the kolkhoz woman a sickle to form the hammer and sickle symbol.

The sculpture was originally created to crown the Soviet pavilion (architect: Boris Iofan) of the World’s Fair. The organizers had sited the Soviet and German pavilions facing each other across the main pedestrian boulevard at the Trocadéro on the north bank of the Seine. Albert Speer, charged with redesigning the German pavilion, happened upon a confidential sketch of the Soviet plan while on an inspection tour of the site of the fair. He was struck by “a sculpted pair of figures… striding triumphantly towards the German Pavilion” and designed an architectural riposte to the massive sculptural group.

Mukhina was inspired by her study of the classical Harmodius and Aristogeiton, the Victory of Samothrace and La Marseillaise, François Rude’s sculptural group for the Arc de Triomphe, to bring a monumental composition of socialist realist confidence to the heart of Paris. The symbolism of the two figures striding from East to West, as determined by the layout of the pavilion, was also not lost by spectators.

Although as Mukhina said, her sculpture was intended “to continue the idea inherent in the building, and this sculpture was to be an inseparable part of the whole structure”, after the fair Worker and Kolkhoz Woman was relocated to Moscow where it was placed just outside the Exhibition of Achievements of the People’s Economy.

In 1941, the sculpture earned for Mukhina one of the initial batch of Stalin Prizes.

The sculpture was removed for restoration in the autumn of 2003 in preparations for Expo 2010. The sculpture was planned to return in 2005, but because the World’s Fair was not awarded to Moscow but to Shanghai, the restoration process was hampered by financial problems. As of May 2007[update], the sculpture was still under restoration, with plans to return the statue to the All-Russia Exhibition Centre by 2008, but due to financial constraints, its return was further deferred until November 28, 2009. The restored statue uses a new pavilion as its pedestal, increasing its total height from 34.5 meters (old pedestal was 10 meters tall) to 60 meters (new pavilion is 34.5 meters tall plus 24.5 meters of the statue’s own height). See 2007 photographsof the disassembled statue.

In cinema, Worker and Kolkhoz Woman was chosen in 1947 to serve as the logo for the film studio Mosfilm. It can be seen in the opening credits of the film Red Heat, as well as many of the Russian films put out by the Mosfilm studio itself. In The 1997 film The Saint Treitiak uses a variation of The Worker and Kolkhoz woman holding a sword on campaign posters.

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November 30th, 2009

Stranger to the World


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