Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Britons Mourn Lenin (1924)

A 1924 Memorial Service in London for Vladimir Ilyich captured on film by Pathe' News.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Lenin as a Statuesque Gulliver.

For me one of the most and beautiful lyric pieces of cinema is Theo Angelopolous's 'The Gaze of Ulysses' where a broken up Lenin statue is being taken down a river on a barge.

Lenin as Noodle Face

Another Roitburd- which depicts Lenin's face as a collection of noodles or wires.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Lenin the art lover

Dmitry Nalbandian's Lenin in the Dresden Gallery in 1914 (which apparently Lenin never visited)

A Lenin Striptease

Alexander Roitburd, an Odessa painter, made a Lenin installation in 2006. Here is part of it which portrays Lenin as doing a striptease:

Lenin Meets Giacometti.

Here's Leonid Sokov's 'Meeting of Sculptures' where a sculpture of Lenin meets Giacometti's A Man. An important work in the Sots Art movement where Pop Art meets Socialist Realism.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Eissler's atonal Lenin requiem.

Hanns Eisler (1898-1962): Lenin, Requiem per contralto, baritono, coro e orchestra (1935) -- Roswitha Trexler, contralto; Hermann Hähnel, baritono -- Rundfunkchor Leipzig e Rundfuk-Sinfonie-Orchester Leipzig diretti da Adolf Fritz Guhl

Composed for the 10th anniversary of Lenin's death- this requiem marks a return to communicative style of atonal music. It wasn't performed in the Soviet Union because of its atonalism. The text by Brecht stresses Lenin's usefulness and avoids hero worship. (from

Introduction and Recitative
As Lenin was dying
(as they tell the story)
a soldier of the death watch
said to his comrades:
I didn't want to believe it!
I didn't want to believe it!
I went in there,
where he is lying,
and said to him:
"Ilyich, Ilyich!
The exploiters are coming!"
He didn't move.
Baritone Solo
Now I know that he is dead.
Aria (Alto with Choir)
When a good man wants to go away,
how can you hold him back?
Tell him
what he's needed for:
that will hold him,
that will hold him!
When a good man wants to go on,
how can you hold him back?
Tell him what he's needed for:
that will hold him,
that will hold him!
What could hold Lenin?
Baritone Solo
The soldier thought:
When he hears
the exploiters are coming,
he might be sick,
and he will get up from his bed anyway.
Perhaps he will come on crutches.
Perhaps he will let himself be carried,
but he will get up and fight
against the exploiters,
against the exploiters.
The soldier knew
that Lenin, his whole life long,
had fought against the exploiters.
Recitative (Alto)
And when the soldier was helping
storm the winter palace,
he wanted to go back home,
because on the fields
the winter crops were ready for planting.
Then Lenin said to him:
I know, but stay!
There are still exploiters,
and so long as exploitation still exists,
the fight against it must go on.
As long as it exists,
the fight against it must go on,
must go on.
Those who are weak don't fight.
Those who are stronger might fight
for an hour.
Those who are stronger still might fight
for many years.
The strongest fight
their whole life.
They are the indispensable ones.
In Praise of the Fighters (Ballad, baritone and choir)
There are many who just get in the way:
it's better when they move on.
But when he's gone, he is missed.
He organizes his fight
around better wages,
for water to make tea,
for power in the state.
He asks of property:
Where do you come from?
He asks of opinions:
Whom do you benefit?
Where everyone else is silent
there will he speak,
and where oppression rules
and others blame it on fate,
he will name names.
Where he sits at table,
dissatisfaction sits there too,
the food will be bad
and the room will seem confining.
Wherever they chase him,
revolt will go with him,
and wherever they've chased him out,
unrest will remain behind anyway.
Alto Solo and Chorus
Towards the time when Lenin died
and was missed,
the victory had been won by fighting,
but the country lay in ruins.
The masses had broken their chains
but the way forward was still in darkness.
When Lenin died,
the soldiers sat on the curbstones and wept,
and the workers ran from their machines
and shook their fists to the skies.
When Lenin died,
it was as if the tree and the leaves said,
I am leaving now.
Alto Solo, Baritone Solo and Chorus
Since that time thirteen years have passed.
A sixth of the world is free from exploitation.
When they hear the warning—
the exploiters are coming!—
the masses rise up again
ready to fight.
Lenin is enshrined
in the great heart
of the working class.
He was our teacher.
He fought with us.
And is now enshrined
in the great heart
of the working class. 

Translation by Andy Lang. 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Lenin as an ambulant beer seller in Danish comedy 'Lenin, You Rascal, You'

The Danish film actor Peter Steen is one of the many who have impersonated Lenin in film. Here, in one clip, Lenin appears to be an improbable ambulant beer seller in the Danish comedy Lenin, You Rascal, You. Not sure if there is any version with English (or other foreign language subtitles) unfortunately.

It won two Bodil awards apparently. For best cinematography and best supporting actor and was directed by Kirsten Stenbaek.

Lenin as a tourist icon: Fight Breaks out between Lenin and Stalin Near Red Square!

Lenin and Stalin fight over their tourist pitch near Red Square. At around 3:40 into the video, Lenin whacks Stalin with a red flag. Alas no ideological disputes caused this but a simple business conflict.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

A Lenin destroyed. Diego Riviera's - A Man at the Crossroads

Mexican replacement of the mural destroyed by Nelson Rockefeller because it contained an image of Lenin and a Soviet May Day Parade.

The creattion and destruction of the mural is dramatized in the films Cradle Will Rock (1999) and Frida (2002) as well as the Tamil film Anbe Sivam in which an Indian Communist argues with a supporter of capitalism.

A description of the controversy taken from this Diego Rivera link:

On 24 April 1933 the New York World-Telegram newspaper published an article attacking the mural as anti-capitalist propaganda. A few days later Rivera added the portrait of Lenin to the work. This precipitated a major controversy by May. The bad publicity greatly upset Rockefeller. Rivera was asked to remove the picture of Lenin, but refused, instead offering to add Abraham Lincoln to the work as way of a compromise. Rockefeller then left the decision about the future of the mural to Todd-Robertson-Todd. Rivera was fully paid the promised amount for his work, but the mural was covered in drapery and left incomplete. Despite protests from art lovers and attempts to get it to moved to the Museum of Modern Art, it remained covered until the early weeks of 1934, when it was destroyed by workmen. The destruction caused widespread controversy. Ralph Stackpole and Bernard Zakheim (who headed a group of artists commissioned by the WPA to paint murals at the Coit Tower in San Francisco) protested, and also included references to the incident in the form of headlines in newspapers held by figures in their paintings. 

Concerned that Rockefeller would destroy the work, Rivera had asked an assistant, Lucienne Bloch, to take photographs of the mural before it was destroyed. Using them as a reference, Rivera repainted the mural, though at a smaller scale, at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City where it was renamed Man, Controller of the Universe. The composition was almost identical, the main difference being that the central figure was moved slightly to be aligned with the supporting mast of the cylindrical telescope above him. 
The new version included a portrait of Leon Trotsky alongside Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels at the right, and others, including Charles Darwin, at the left and Nelson Rockefeller's father, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., a lifelong teetotaler, seen drinking in a nightclub with a woman; above their heads is a dish of syphilis bacteria. 

E.B. White's Poem dedicated to the Rivera mural controversy "I Paint What I See : A Ballad of Artistic Integrity"
"What do you paint when you paint a wall?"
Said John D.'s grandson Nelson.
"Do you paint just anything there at all?
"Will there be any doves or a tree in fall?
"Or a hunting scene like an English hall?"
"I paint what I see," said Rivera.
"What are the colors you use when you paint?"
Said John D.'s grandson, Nelson.
"Do you use any red in the beard of a saint?
"If you do is it terribly red, or faint?
"Do you use any blue? Is it Prussian?"
"I paint what I paint," said Rivera.
"Whose is that head I see on my wall?"
Said John D.'s grandson Nelson.
"Is it anyone's head whom we know, at all?
"A Rensselaer, or a Saltonstall?
"Is it Franklin D.? Is it Mordaunt Hall?
"Or is it the head of a Russian?"
"I paint what I think," said Rivera.
"I paint what I paint, I paint what I see,
"I paint what I think," said Rivera,
"And the thing that is dearest in life to me
"In a bourgeois hall is Ingegrity;
"I'll take out a couple of people drinkin'
"And put in a picture of Abraham Lincoln,
"I could even give you McCormick's reaper
"And still not make my art much cheaper.
"But the head of Lenin has got to stay
"Or my friends will give me the bird today
"The bird, the bird, forever."
"It's not good taste in a man like me,"
Said John D.'s grandson Nelson,
"To question an artist's integrity
"Or mention a practical thing like a fee,
"But I know what I like to a large degree
"Though art I hate to hamper;
"For twenty-one thousand conservative bucks
"You painted a radical. I say shucks,
"I never could rent the offices.
"For this, as you know, is a public hall
"And people want doves or a tree in fall,
"And though your art I dislike to hamper,
"I owe a little to God and Gramper,
"And after all,
"It's my wall...."
"We'll see if it is," said Rivera.
[First published in The New Yorker, May 20, 1933 during the controversy over Diego Rivera's mural in Rockefeller Center which was destroyed the following year on February 9, 1934.]


Andy Warhol Lenin's.

A Lenin A Day Will Keep The Capitalists At Bay. / Footage of the Death of Lenin.

This blog has been rather abandoned, though now I hope to offer a Lenin image, anecdote, quote, video a day to make up for lost time.

Here's shot footage of the death of Lenin: