Art may not get many pages in Anna Karenina but it still has a presence. What caught my eye was how the only two times art has been described and discussed in detail have been in the aristocracy or in another country. The interesting part is how there does not seem to be much art inspired by Russian culture and history. We have one Russian painter featured but he does not get aid or support from the Russian government. Obviously, the novel has art being produced in Russia. However, the art featured gains its influence and inspiration from European ideals with no real hint of uniquely Russian culture included.
We've already discussed in class how it was trendy for the Russian aristocracy to emulate European ideals, but is that all there is to the lack of Russian art in Anna Karenina? I think that the way art is treated suggests that the reason for this lack is not just from seeking European culture and customs but also from the socioeconomic situation of 1870's Russia. Tolstoy treats the peasant as being the heart of Russia but there's no way peasants could afford to take the time and effort to create art. Another part of it could be that the aristocracy is portrayed as being more interested in how art should be defined and analyzed rather than in its creation. In both sections of the novel that focus on art, there is someone trying to imitate or define art. Vronsky would rather imitate other painters and follow classic styles than attempt to be original and develop a new idea. At the concert, Levin is unable to appreciate the show he just saw due to his confusion and instead argues with Pestsov that art forms should not be mixed. Any thoughts on this?