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Saving on Building Materials or Lacking Confidence in the Russia Revolution?

Across from the famous Bolshoi Theatre and opposite the Plaza of the the Revolutions lies an awesome granite statue of the Germany political philospher Karl Marx. Below the man himself an inscription reads, Proletariat of all countries, solidarity!

While the Marx statue has itself stood on the site since 29 October 1961, this is by no means where the story of Marx in Moscow begins. The first attempt at a statue was unveiled on the 1st aniversary of the October Revolution, 7 November 1918, by none other than Vladamir Lenin. A number of leftist themed statues were unveiled across the city in an attempt to distract the people from the Tsarist era and the associated architecture.

Originally Not Just a Karl Marx Statue

This original monument not only featured Marx but his close friend and co-author of the Communist Manifesto, Freidrich Engels. Be it lack of experience or shear naivety the original sculptors unfortunately chose to make the statue out of plaster of Paris. Consequently it didn’t last the year. However, this didn’t dampen the spirits of those involved in the project. In anticipation of the next monument, a great marble plinth was placed in the current square in an attempt to get the creative minds of Moscow working on an appropriate replacement.

Marx-statue-2

Waiting and waiting and…

Those looking for a quick solution to this particular quandary would have their patience tested. It wasn’t until 1957, thirty three years after the death of Lenin that the then Soviet Leader Nikita Khrushchev began a competition to discover someone to design and construct the replacement. In the end the famed sculptor and artist Lev Kerbel was awarded the job. The statue wasn’t completed for another four years, but in 1961 the finished piece was eventually unveiled to local Muscovites and visiting foreign Socialist dignitaries.

A Plaster of Paris Bust of Putin Anyone?

Arguably, since then the statue has had something of a quiet life. It was occasionally the setting for demonstrations and political rallies but the great Marx statue is liked enough by locals and the occasional visiting tourist. There are some exceptions to this however with some members of a Moscow based arts committee attempting to have the statue removed. They argued that Marx the man had no clear geographic association with the city having never visited in his life. This is of course true, and you are more likely to find monuments to Marx in the UK or Germany given the length of time he spent in these two countries.

Another group has suggested that the Marx statue be replaced by one of the current President of Russia, Vladamir Putin. In the end the major barrier to removal may be logistical. Local engineers claim the monument to be one of the heaviest in Moscow and consequently believe it would be very difficult to move.


[one_half]Opening Hours: Open all hours[/one_half][one_half_last]Address: Pamyatnik Karlu Marksu, Moscow, Russia, 109012[/one_half_last]

[one_half]Price: Free[/one_half][one_half_last]Website: n/a[/one_half_last]


Photo credit:  Photo 1 by chrissie_mac and photo 2 by Angie Chung.