Plastov is, of course, one of the iconic figures of socialist realism, revered not only under Stalin, but also under later leaders. The German pilot who bombed the USSR, who later became the great artist Joseph Beuys, is almost a symbol of the entire modernist project. The brutal collision of two systems, two great projects historically ended with the defeat of the "Evil Empire", and therefore of realistic art. Boyce "killed" Plastov. But isn't it a symbol of this confrontation that we see in Arkady Alexandrovich's painting. Can't we think of his masterpiece as a prediction of historical inevitability? And doesn't the picture itself give us permission to assume this.
The composition of the picture is such that we understand that this is not just an episode of war, but also not only propaganda rhetoric, or rather, an element of propaganda is present here, but it is, as it were, encoded in the deep layers of the pictorial language. The boy, nature and the herd, occupying nine-tenths of the picture, are precisely the cliches of realistic art, based on the Rousseauist myth of the unity of man and nature. On the contrary, the plane, disappearing into the haze of the horizon, represents a new world - the world of technology, the world of machines and the world of... modernism. Thus, the plane killing the shepherdess is at the same time modernism, striking realistic art, based on nature and humanistic pathos
But there is one more piece of evidence that makes us see in the film "The Fascist Flew Over" something more than an anti-war poster. As you know, one of Beuys's most famous students was Anselm Kiefer, a famous German painter.
Many years later, after I, as a child, was amazed by Plastov's painting, I found myself in the Munich Pinakothek, where Kiefer's painting "Nuremberg" appeared before my eyes. (I later learned that Kiefer had a number of variations of this painting). Work reminded me painfully of something. And suddenly, I realized WHAT. Well, of course! It was the same "The fascist flew by." The same composition, the same muted palette, the same angle and the same arable land. There was no shepherd, it is clear that his remains had long since decayed, and there was, of course, no herd and dog. The birches have disappeared somewhere. Apparently they were knocked out. But everything else remained unchanged.
Is this a coincidence? Is it a coincidence that the main painting of the Soviet realist, who knew nothing about Beuys, but intuitively placed the great German in the right corner of his painting, eventually appeared in the painting of another German - a student of Beuys.
So, perhaps, in the very language of painting there is something hidden that appears without the will of the authors, appears on the canvases of great masters, reflecting not those fleeting events that became the themes of these paintings, but the deep tectonic shifts that occur in our consciousness.
Autumn. Slope. Young thin birch trees in a golden headdress. The deep peace of a fine autumn day. Not a single blade of grass moves. The sharp howl of a dog cut through the silence. The sheep wander lost. What is this? The shepherd boy pressed his cheek to the dry, prickly grass. Fell awkwardly. The arm is twisted. The whip and hat flew far away. Scarlet blood on blond curls. The baby clung tightly to his native land. He won't get up. Far, far away in the clear sky above the emerald greens is a fascist plane. A moment ago, a leaden rain stopped life. Against the backdrop of the peaceful native nature, the crime committed by the Nazis looks especially monstrous and cruel. It was no coincidence that Plastov chose the autumn motif, which with its sad beauty figuratively sets off the tragic death of the shepherdess. The artist painted the slope of the hill to look like a precious carpet shimmering with warm tones. The gold of young birches, here and there the flashing red spots of autumn foliage, the green velvet of winter - all this is perceived as a beautiful musical accompaniment to a sad, tender, lyrical song, full of deep inner tragedy.
A somewhat muted color scheme, built on light brownish and yellowish colors, and the fading light of day correspond to the drama of the plot and help convey the mood. This picture is impossible to forget. It sounded like an alarm bell, calling for a fight, for the destruction of the enemy, intensifying hatred towards him.
Sources: Dolgopolov I.V., "Masters: short stories about artists" (Military Publishing House, 1981)
There is one painting in the Tretyakov Gallery that made an indelible impression on me as a child. This painting is called "The Fascist Flew" and belongs to the brush of the famous Soviet painter Arkady Plastov. This work can hardly be called outstanding from the point of view of painting itself. But the choice of motif, internal dramaturgy and strange composition take it beyond the endless series of Soviet propaganda paintings. There is a legend according to which Plastov's painting made such a strong impression on Roosevelt and Churchill that they immediately decided to open a second front. Thus, it would be fair to call the painting "The Fascist Flew Over" a special kind of cultural weapon. But we are interested in something else. Considering the picture in the context of modern postmodern culture, you inevitably wonder who is in the deadly plane, barely visible in the haze above the horizon. It is clear that this is a pilot. Of course he is German. And what? If we think of "Fascist" not in the context of socialist realism of the mid-twentieth century, but from the point of view of modern art, then the answer is obvious: a German flying on a military plane over the vast expanses of Russia is... Joseph Beuys.
What makes us make this assumption? Art history!
Post-war art is a fierce competition between two systems, not only communism and capitalism, but realism and modernism.