Socialist Realist ceremonial art has generally been viewed in the West as a form of high art, because of its air of monumentality and references to classics. Judged by high-art standards, such works are invariably failures, and Western commentators have accordingly treated Socialist Realism as something exotic or inexplicable. This approach is inadequate: firstly, because it does not examine Stalin-era art on its own terms, and secondly, because it refuses to acknowledge any similarities in Western culture.
Socialist Realism was a discipline placed upon artists to provide a suitably dignified backdrop to state ritual. In this sense, it was a species of religious art, in which blandness, anonymity and tedium were by no means vices. This article compares the relatively smooth passage of Myaskovsky into Socialist Realism with the troubled homecoming of Prokofiev, who only mastered the discipline just before the end of his life.