Vladimir Putin, Superhero

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Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition
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Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev, courtesy AFP/Getty Images.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev, courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Yuri Kochetkov, courtesy EPA.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Yuri Kochetkov, courtesy of EPA.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev, courtesy AFP/Getty Images.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev, courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtest Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.
Artwork at pro-Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014. Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy Gazeta.ru.
Artwork atpro–Vladimir Putin art exhibition "No Filters," which opened in Moscow on October 31, 2014.
Photo: Andrew Makhonin, courtesy of Gazeta.ru.

For the second time in less than a month, a Russian art exhibit lionizing president Vladimir Putin is making headlines (see: “New Art Exhibition Recasts Vladimir Putin as Hercules“). “No Filters,” organized by Young Guard of United Russia (the youth wing of Putin’s political party) at the Bottle design factory in Moscow, shows Putin in a variety of of flattering caricatures: a caped superhero, a boxer in the ring, driving a tank, and, in a large piece titled Targeted Sanctions, spanking president Barack Obama like a naughty schoolboy.

Unlike American political cartoonists, who have been known to depict the Russian leader in more embarrassing circumstances, such as figure skating on the cover of the New Yorker during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, these Russian artists treat Putin’s image with reverence. The artwork, really little more than propaganda, repeatedly asserts Russia’s dominance, particularly over the US and Ukraine, and shows Putin fighting so-called fascism.

The one-note nature of the exhibition is easily explained: The Young Guard told Ria Novosti that it specifically enlisted the participation of “patriotically oriented artists” looking to “restore in the minds of citizens respect and pride in their country.” Admittedly, a bare-chested Putin riding a large brown bear is significantly more imposing than the figure of Obama perched on a donkey, but the image of Putin Skywalker fighting Darth Obama, who wields a flaccid lightsaber, seems unlikely to change anyone’s political convictions.


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