Worker and Kolkhoz Woman (Russian: Рабо́чий и колхо́зница) is a sculpture of two figures with a sickle and a hammer raised over their heads. It is 24.5 meters (78 feet) high, 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 of the World’s Fair. The organizers had placed the Soviet and German pavilions facing each other across the main pedestrian boulevard at the Trocadéro on the north bank of the Seine.
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 West to East, as determined by the layout of the pavilion, was also not lost on the spectators.
Mukhina said that 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”, but after the fair, the Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa was relocated to Moscow where it was placed just outside the All-Russia Exhibition Center.
In 1941, the sculpture earned Mukhina one of the initial batch of Stalin Prizes.
The sculpture was removed for restoration in autumn of 2003 in preparation for Expo 2010. The original plan was for it 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 and re-installation was delayed. See 2007 photographs of the disassembled statue.
It finally returned to its place at VDNKh on November 28, 2009. The revealing of the restored monument was held on the evening of December 4, 2009, accompanied by fireworks. The restored statue uses a new pavilion as its pedestal, increasing its total height from 34.5 meters (the old pedestal was 10 meters tall) to 60 meters (the new pavilion is 34.5 meters tall plus 24.5 meters of the statue’s own height).
Use in media
In Soviet cinema, Rabochiy i Kolkhoznitsa (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 released by the Mosfilm studio itself.
A giant moving reproduction of the statue was featured in the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, symbolizing post-World War II Soviet society, particularly in Moscow. The Magic is Might monument in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 is based on the statue.
This museum and exhibition center opened in September 2010 inside a new basement of a legendary sculpture by Vera Mukhina – ‘Worker and Kolkhoz Woman’. The 24-meter sculpture of Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, a masterpiece of soviet and world modernism of the first half of XX century, was created using new technologies discovered by Russian metallographist, Professor P.N. Lvov.
A many-tons carcass is covered with chrome and nickel steel shell jointed by welding. The statue was created for a Soviet pavilion in Paris World Exhibition 1937 and was furiously pointing towards the eagle with raised feathers and swastika in the cornice in the German pavilion opposite the Soviet. The collection of MEC Worker and Kolkhoz Woman stores materials indicating that Boris Iofan was the author of the sculpture’s idea. He was inspired by plastic theme of antique Tyrant-fighters statue.
The arms raised to the sky with swords were replaced with the arms with peaceful symbols, Soviet country emblems – a reaping hook and a hammer. The author of the image idea was Iofan and is confirmed by the sketches of the sculpture performed for a closed competition of 1936 by V.A. Andreev, V.I. Mukhina and M.G. Manizer. At first glance, all versions (except for the one participating in 1936 competition, an expressionist monument by I.D. Shadr) are very similar. The same posture of two figures, the same raised arms. The male authors made the characters look like antique gods ice cold in their perfection and Vera Mukhina showed the raging undefeated strength of their internal energy and passion.
After the sculpture returned to its homeland, for seventy years it has been meeting the guest of North Gate to All-Soviet Agriculture Exhibition/Exhibition of National Economic Achievements. It stood on a low basement (11 meters) growing older and older. Mukhina and Iofan till the end of their lives strived to make a basement of appropriate height, to transfer the statute to some other symbolic place suitable for the right visual scenery of city space (Vera Mukhina wished to see her ‘children’ in Lenin hills). It did not occur when those masters were alive. However, modern post-soviet art liked the monument and turned it to an object for new happenings and performances. Here we can note the event of 1998 when architects and artists gowned Worker and Kolkhoz Woman in real overalls and a dress of Russian flag colors.
Today the sculpture is placed on the basement-pavilion created under inspiration of Boris Iofan’s design for Paris exhibition 1937. In this way, the theme for a new domestic art path from innovations of the first half XX century to the avant-garde of the first half of this century is deliberately highlighted.