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Russian exhibit puts Marx in the picture, 200 years after his birth

/ 06:06 PM October 21, 2018

Statues of German philosopher Karl Marx, whose theories were turned into the basis of communism by his followers, are still a common sight in Russia, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. Image: JOHN MACDOUGALL / AFP

No Russian artist painted revolutionary thinker Karl Marx during his lifetime and yet his image even now 200 years after his birth remains ubiquitous.

Hundreds of those images on canvas, in bronze, on vases, tapestries and posters have now been brought together in a new exhibition in Saint Petersburg.

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“Attitudes towards Marx have changed many times, but the works of art will stay forever,” said Evgenia Petrova of the State Russian Museum at the opening of the three-hall display.

Statues of the German philosopher, whose theories were turned into the basis of communism by his followers, are still a common sight in Russia and most cities have a street named after him, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s.

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Marx died in London in 1881 at the age of 64. His grave at the city’s Highgate Cemetery is still a major tourist draw.

The exhibition includes pre-Russian revolution works such as a 1905 bust by sculptor Anna Golubkina, as well as irony-tinged contemporary works.

“For those of us who grew up in the Soviet era, Marx, Engels and Lenin were like the Holy Trinity. They were everywhere in public life,” said Tatyana Yakovleva, a 69-year-old pensioner visiting the museum.

The exhibit “Karl Marx Forever” runs until Jan. 14, 2019, at the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg. NVG

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