the heroic memorials in russia partly reflect the over-blown stalinist style, i haven't been to russia, but i have been to minsk in belarus, it was completely destroyed in ww2, almost everyone was killed and the town was rebuild in the soviet neo-classical style. minsk has some amazing memorials, huge things, usually with a figurative and an abstract element, and these vast edifices do fit in with the architecture.
there is another point though, there is a cultural difference; russians value heroism, it is one of their cardinal virtues, i know lots of russians through my work and even in a scientific field they place emphasis on heroic effort and scientific valour. the british admire a different form of valour; they admire gallantry and spirit. i think these difference are reflected in different memorial styles. in our case, the national ethos demands people should die for the love of it and our memorials are often romantic, even naive: the cuchulainn in the gpo, the swans in the rememberance gardens, the split hill for 1798 and the murals on falls road.
america is more confusing, as i said before, they used to be very figurative, figures of soldiers looking heroic, maybe natural in a country that values the individual, but, since mia lin, they have changed completely and now they are obsessed with the naming of names, lists and times and symbols. what's that about?
i don't agree with what? about there being a progression from the figurative to the abstract; in art maybe there is, there is an exploration, where particular modes become exhausted and a new mode superceeds it. not so with memorial art, it is influenced by contemporary artistic fashions, and by trends in memorial art itself, but it also reflects its own meaning and the meaning of the event being memorialized.