Artful Photos: Soviet Art

If you would like to share artwork you have photographed or created, please include a link to your blog in the comments! I would love to see the art other bloggers have admired! 

In early January, Dale and I went to the Chicago Art Institute, to see a couple of temporary exhibits. One of them was called Revolutsiia! Demonstratsiia! Soviet Art Put to the Test.

20180106_142816There were several sections to this exhibit, including magazine covers, theatre, plastic arts, propaganda. Many of the revolutionary posters from the Bolshevik Revolution were primarily black, white and red. Red was the color that seemed to dominate many forms of art in the Soviet Union.  I noticed a lack of a variety of colors used in most of what was on display. I may post more of the artwork featured in this exhibit, but today I feature two of my favorite items: a chess set and a robot.

First is a fancy chess set created by Natal’ia Dan’ko, called The Reds and the Whites.
20180106_145510
20180106_145533
20180106_145525.jpg

***

The artist Alexandra Exter (1882-1949)  created a marionette “robot” for a film that was never completed by Danish filmmaker Peter Urban Gad. Exter emigrated to Paris after a career in Russia that included making festival decorations in Kiev and teaching color at a Moscow art school. She had introduced stage design as an area of study in 1918 and continued instruction in this area in Paris.

The set of marionettes she created numbered at least 20 and “treated the human body as a sum of lines and planes in movement.”
20180106_144253
There were photographs (gelatin silver prints) of other marionettes from this set, Marionettes for an unrealized film by Peter Urban Gad, although it is uncertain whether they were also made for the film. The pieces were created in 1926-27.20180106_144234 (2)

The marionettes in the photographs actually appeared in a 1928 Punch and Judy sketch. The performance included “raucous interaction” by lively carnival crowds.

***

The exhibit overall was interesting, but I was struck by a lack of imagination and creativity, perhaps due to restrictions imposed on artists. It bothered me that the Soviet leaders, professing the goal of egalitarianism and exalting the worker, seemed to bend over backward to show the workers’ daily lives and prescribed that realism in their art.  Did they not think that the “proletariat” was able to appreciate art for art’s sake? If museums were free, and the workers had leisure time, wouldn’t they enter an art museum to view the works of the world’s best painters? The beauty, the colors and designs…there was a sterility in Soviet artwork: instead of nature, abstractionism or fantasy, what we saw was the stark realism, the drudgery of workers’ lives. Over a door in the back of the exhibit was this sign, which seemed to be part of a poem describing what is lost in modernization and urbanization, but for me put into words what I was feeling:20180106_152401

 

 

 

 

CFFC: Oh, you!!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is the letter U – must have both an ‘o’ and a ‘u’ in the word.

Round

20170520_153853

Interlocking hoops decoration on a wall at a wedding venue

 

Fountains

DSC_0739

Peter the Great loved fountains, so he had a lot of them built on his country estate, Peterhof (near St. Petersburg, Russia)

 

Mountain

20160819_162046

Mt. Baker, Washington state, from our airplane window

 

 

Clouds

20170524_160439

Interesting cloud formations over the prairie in southeastern North Dakota

 

20180109_153147

Ripply  clouds at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, as seen from my driveway.

 

 

 

 

 

Consumers

20170519_130236_001.jpg

Looking down on consumers at Mall of America, Minneapolis, Minnesota

 

Couple

20170520_191733

Newlywed couple, (my niece Allie and her new husband Alex), prepares to cut the wedding cake.

 

Spouse

20170522_173013

My husband, Dale,  relaxes as he enjoys wine and cheese hour at Hotel Donaldson, Fargo, North Dakota

 

Dungeon

The dungeon tour
The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, Charleston, SC. It was built by the British in 1771 in a Palladian style, and was used for trade purposes during Charleston’s growth as a port. During the American Revolution, American Patriots were held prisoners in the dungeon.

 

20170326_090734

Las Bovedas, now a colorful market in Cartagena, Colombia, was a dungeon at one time (las bovedas means “the dungeons”), which is why over each shop door there is a small barred window – this would have been the only window the prisoners in the cells had.

 

 

 

Primary Colors Around the World

This is my first time entering Ailsa’s Travel Theme Challenge! This week’s theme is Primary Colors. Here are some previously posted* travel photos as well as some new ones:

YELLOW

20170326_090708

Las Bovedas, Cartagena, Colombia

KODAK Digital Still Camera

 Cartagena, Colombia

20170323_142838

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

BLUE

20170323_105858

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

20170323_105918

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

20170712_133915

Lower Kaubashine Lake, Hazelhurst, Wisconsin

RED

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Store Window, Lubeck, Germany

 

KODAK Digital Still Camera

St. Isaac Cathedral, St. Petersburg, Russia

 

 

*Check out my previous travel posts! 😀

 

St. Petersburg (part 1): Two Palaces – Why Russia Had a Revolution

August 11-12, 2015

Catherine’s Palace
It’s no wonder there was a revolution in Russia, I couldn’t help thinking when we toured the opulent and ostentatious Catherine’s Palace. Some of it was beautiful; some of it was garish. All of it was obviously extremely expensive.

Catherine’s Palace was a gift from Peter the Great to his wife, Catherine I. The first palace on this site, referred to as the “small palace”, was built in the 1720s but was enlarged in the mid-18th century by another architect commissioned by the queen. The resulting palace contains both Baroque and Classical elements.

Arrival at Catherine's Palace

Arrival at Catherine’s Palace

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

One of the palace gates

One of the palace gates

KODAK Digital Still CameraCatherine’s Palace was a favorite of the last tsar, Nicholas, and his family. The day before, I had visited another Catherine’s Palace outside Tallinn, Estonia (see my post Touring Tallinn …), also a gift from Peter the Great to his 2nd wife, but much smaller and less luxurious.

Peter been married before but was not in love, so when he met Catherine, he dispatched his first wife to a convent! Women were submissive and had few rights in those days, so I suppose she had to obey. Catherine came from a peasant family and in a Cinderella-type story, they fell in love and were married. Peter & Catherine had several children but most died in childhood. Elizabeth was one of two surviving children, and she took the throne in 1741. Her daughter-in-law was Catherine the Great.

Large hall, probably used for receptions or balls.

Large hall, probably used for receptions or balls.

After a long wait to get in, and then donning slippers over our shoes to protect the floors, our tour group went through room after room of Baroque style gold-leaf decorations.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

KODAK Digital Still CameraSince this palace belonged to Peter the Great’s beloved second wife, her monogram would be included on some of the decorations, which looked like a 3 with a vertical line through it. The “3” is the y sound, which is how Catherine is spelled and pronounced in Russian: “Yeh-Katerina.”

Catherine I's monogram

Catherine I’s monogram

Fireplaces of blue tile in each room are beautiful contrasts to all the gold.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera

Formal dining room - the paintings on the wall depict animals having killed and are preparing to eat their prey. These gruesome images were supposed to increase the diners' appetites!

Formal dining room – the paintings on the wall depict animals having killed and are preparing to eat their prey. These gruesome images were supposed to increase the diners’ appetites!

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the palace and grounds were turned into a museum, while other buildings in “Tsars’ Village”, as the town surrounding Catherine’s Palace was known, were turned into educational and health facilities for children. The Bolsheviks thus renamed the town “Children’s Village.” In 1937, the country commemorated the 100th anniversary of the death of the poet Pushkin, and the village was once again renamed; the town of “Pushkin” is still called by this name today.

The furnishings are mostly replicas, because the palace was used as Nazi headquarters during WWII, and when they left, they destroyed it. Restoration was done with the aim to recreate the palace interior as much as possible to its original design. Someone on our ship joked that if you want job security in Russia, get a job in restoration!

This painting depicts how the palace looked after the Nazis left, having set the interior on fire. The outer walls are standing, but the interior was mostly destroyed.

This painting depicts how the palace looked after the Nazis left, having set the interior on fire. The outer walls are standing, but the interior was mostly destroyed.

Photos taken after the Nazis left

Photos taken after the Nazis left

Restoration begins.

Sorting out the artifacts: Restoration begins.

Most of the rooms are designed in Baroque style, but when the palace was expanded in the mid-18th century by another architect commissioned by Empress Elizabeth, it was done in Classical style.

Our guide, Katrina, gave a running commentary on the walls, columns, floors, décor, paintings, furnishings, dishes, etc. as we passed along; as usual when I visit palaces, all the luxury in room after room eventually overwhelms me and I stop really paying attention; the fact that the audio equipment didn’t work very well didn’t help.

KODAK Digital Still CameraHowever, like at other palaces I’ve visited, there is always at least one room that really stands out while all the other rooms blend together in a blur. In this case, the room that made an impression on me was the Amber Room, which is showcased in books about the palace, since no photography is permitted, unlike the rest of the palace. It really is quite spectacular. The walls, moldings and furnishings are all made of amber.

amber room - picture frame

amber room wallThe light colored amber – usually the most desired – is the oldest; the darkest is the youngest. The variety of colors is quite amazing. Pieces of different color amber were fitted together mosaic style to form the layers on the walls, etc. There’s also a table whose top is a mosaic of different colored amber.

amber room - crownamber room tableamber room - detailNote:  All pictures of the Amber Room were downloaded from Google Images.

One of the last rooms we visited was in Classical style – the walls were green and the white wall décor had more angular lines and more secularized themes. Although sumptuously decorated also, it didn’t have gold cherubs, statues, moldings, etc. which are the hallmarks of Baroque ornamentation.

KODAK Digital Still CameraThe gardens outside were mostly sculpted and symmetrical in design.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

There were other smaller buildings on the property.

There were other smaller buildings on the property.

~~~~~

Peterhof

Peterhof is not just one palace – it is an estate containing a large park with fountains, gardens, and other buildings. The Grand Palace is what you first see when you arrive by car or bus. Like other Russian palaces, it is huge and is often referred to as the “Russian Versailles”. Versailles was the inspiration for Peter the Great’s desire to build an estate outside the new city of St. Petersburg.

The Grand Palace and the Grand Cascade, which consists of 64 fountains and 200 bronze statues.

The Grand Palace and the Grand Cascade, which consists of 64 fountains and 200 bronze statues.

The first palace built on the grounds was “Monplaisir”, a much smaller structure, designed by and for Peter himself, situated on the Gulf of Finland. It is what you see when you arrive or depart from the pier. Marly Palace (a much smaller Baroque mansion on the grounds, meant to be an intimate retreat) and another two-story building on a nearby island, to be used as a dining room, were also built before the grand palace.

Small palace, called

Small palace, called “Monplaisir”, was designed by and for Peter the Great himself.

Gardens in front of

Gardens in front of “Monplaisir”

Landscaping of the grounds had begun by the early 1720s, but work on the site stopped when Peter the Great died in 1725 and Peterhof was left abandoned until Peter’s daughter Elizabeth took the throne in 1740. Elizabeth commissioned Bartolomeo Rastrelli, who had already completed the Summer Palace in St. Petersburg, to build an opulent royal palace. The completed palace is long and narrow and not as ornate as Catherine’s Palace. We did not go inside, which was okay with me, but instead had time to explore the grounds.

KODAK Digital Still CameraKODAK Digital Still Camera 100_0729 KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still CameraFountains were an integral part of the plan conceived by Peter for this estate, and each succeeding generation outdid the previous one by adding more sumptuous and ingenious fountains throughout the grounds. The Grand Cascade, in front of the grand palace, is composed of 64 fountains and over 200 bronze statues and other decorations. At the center is a statue of Samson wrestling with a lion.

In the center of the Grand Cascade is this bronze statue of Samson wrestling with the lion.

In the center of the Grand Cascade is this bronze statue of Samson wrestling with the lion.

There are also unusual fountains such as the Chess Cascade  and the Joke Fountains – here’s where the children have fun. One of these sprays water on a person who steps on a particular stone. Another is like a water fall that starts and stops, which you can stand under.

Chess Cascade with mythical animals at the top

Chess Cascade with mythical animals at the top

One of the "Joke" fountains - you don't know when the water will start or stop. The children love it!

One of the “Joke” fountains – you don’t know when the water will start or stop. The children love it!

The gardens were absolutely beautiful. Catherine the Great oversaw the first landscaped garden at Peterhof, the English Park. Everywhere we walked were more fountains, more gardens, but none of them the same.

Near Monplaisir Palace

Near Monplaisir Palace

KODAK Digital Still Camera KODAK Digital Still CameraBeing on our own by this time, my husband and I took a route through a small part of the park, but by no means did we see all of it – in one afternoon, that would have been impossible.

This rocky beach on the edge of the Peterhof estate borders the Gulf of Finland. The small yellow building on an outcrop of land in the distance was meant for use as a dining room for entertaining guests.

This rocky beach on the edge of the Peterhof estate borders the Gulf of Finland. The small yellow building on an outcrop of land in the distance was meant for use as a dining room for entertaining guests.

100_0779We met the others in our group at the hydrofoil dock, and took a hydrofoil back to St. Petersburg.

hydrofoil boat