Leaders of the BRIC nations in 2008: (l-r) Manmohan Singh of India, Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Hu Jintao of China and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil.
The second half of the 19th century was dominated by the Byzantine and Russian Revival style (this corresponds to Gothic Revival in Western Europe). Prevalent styles of the 20th century were the Art Nouveau (Fyodor Shekhtel), Constructivism (Aleksey Shchusev and Konstantin Melnikov), and the Stalin Empire style (Boris Iofan).
After Stalin's death a new Soviet leader, Nikita Khruschev, condemned the "excesses" of the former architectural styles, and in the late Soviet era the architecture of the country was dominated by plain functionalism. This helped somewhat to resolve the housing problem, but created a large quantity of buildings of low architectural quality, much in contrast with the previous bright architecture. After the end of the Soviet Union the situation improved. Many churches demolished in Soviet times were rebuilt, and this process continues along with the restoration of various historical buildings destroyed in World War II. As for the original architecture, there is no longer any common style in modern Russia, though International style has a great influence.
Early Russian painting focused on icon painting and vibrant frescos inherited by Russians from Byzantium. As Moscow rose to power, Theophanes the Greek and Andrei Rublev became vital names associated with the beginning of a distinctly Russian art.
The Russian Academy of Arts was created in 1757, aimed to give Russian
artists an international role and status. Notable portrait painters from the Academy include Ivan Argunov, Fyodor Rokotov, Dmitry Levitzky, and Vladimir Borovikovsky. In the early 19th century, when neoclassicism and romantism flourished, famous academic artists focused on mythological and Biblical themes, like Karl Briullov and Alexander Ivanov.
Realism came into dominance in the 19th century. The realists captured Russian identity in landscapes of wide rivers, forests, and birch clearings, as well as vigorous genre scenes and robust portraits of their contemporaries. Other artists focused on social criticism, showing the conditions of the poor and caricaturing authority; critical realism flourished under the reign of Alexander II, with some artists making the circle of human suffering their main theme. Others focused on depicting dramatic