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Open Access (free)
Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s
Author: Yulia Karpova

The major part of this book project was funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 700913.

This book is about two distinct but related professional cultures in late Soviet Russia that were concerned with material objects: industrial design and decorative art. The Russian avant-garde of the 1920s is broadly recognised to have been Russia’s first truly original contribution to world culture. In contrast, Soviet design of the post-war period is often dismissed as hackwork and plagiarism that resulted in a shabby world of commodities. This book identifies the second historical attempt at creating a powerful alternative to capitalist commodities in the Cold War era. It offers a new perspective on the history of Soviet material culture by focusing on the notion of the ‘comradely object’ as an agent of progressive social relations that state-sponsored Soviet design inherited from the avant-garde. It introduces a shared history of domestic objects, handmade as well as machine-made, mass-produced as well as unique, utilitarian as well as challenging the conventional notion of utility. Situated at the intersection of intellectual history, social history and material culture studies, this book elucidates the complexities and contradictions of Soviet design that echoed international tendencies of the late twentieth century. The book is addressed to design historians, art historians, scholars of material culture, historians of Russia and the USSR, as well as museum and gallery curators, artists and designers, and the broader public interested in modern aesthetics, art and design, and/or the legacy of socialist regimes.

Open Access (free)
Janet Wolff

for many centuries, the words most commonly used for blue are glaukos and kyaneos ... During the classical era, kyaneos meant a dark color: deep blue, violet, brown, and black. In fact, it evokes more the ‘feeling’ of the color than its actual hue. The term glaukos, which existed in the Archaic period and was much used by Homer, can refer to gray, blue, and sometimes even yellow or brown. Philip Ball tells us that blue and yellow are categorised together in some Slavic languages as well as in other languages in northern Japan, East Nigeria and among some northern

in Austerity baby
Yulia Karpova

the Second World War. After the war, Soviet factories gradually established the mass production of watches and clocks for ordinary consumers rather than just for high-­ ranking military men. In 1965 the USSR produced 30 million high-quality wristwatches.23 A 1967 textbook for vocational schools claimed that the USSR was second in the world after Switzerland in the production of KARPOVA 9781526139870 PRINT.indd 121 20/01/2020 11:10 122 Comradely objects c­ omplex and high-quality timepieces, ‘leaving West Germany, Japan, the US and England behind’.24 By the

in Comradely objects
Yulia Karpova

he created several variants of a clay sculpture representing a biblical theme: Jacob with the ladder.104 By 1986, when the changing political situation exacerbated differences in professional and ethical views within OK, envy grew from a motivational drive into a destructive, divisive force and the group disintegrated. Today it is remembered as a crucial, though perhaps underappreciated, group in late Soviet cultural and intellectual life. Its brainchild, izokeramika, was a way of interacting with contemporary trends in foreign studio ceramics (especially Japanese

in Comradely objects
Open Access (free)
Tania Anne Woloshyn

However, awareness of its lethal action on bacteria was not the only influence on the earliest experiments with and hypotheses about the ‘injurious’ rays’ therapeutic application. Nor can these origins of light therapy be solely attributed to Finsen. Dr Theobald Palm, a medical missionary trained in Edinburgh and stationed in Japan between 1874 and 1884, cited Downes and Blunt at length in an 1890 article, but he also spoke of

in Soaking up the rays
Open Access (free)
Tania Anne Woloshyn

its own means of protection by creating a sort of pigment. We find similar pigments as an inherited gift in most other human races, from the light yellow of the Japanese to the ebony black of the real Negro. 171 For Müller, retaining pigment, described here as a process of adaptation more in keeping with Neo

in Soaking up the rays