great popularity and high attendance at the exhibition implied an affirmative answer
– or, at least, the willingness of Russians to dwell on it now.
Western design historians and curators, too, increasingly contribute
to this positive narrative of the history of Soviet design, but from a more
critical, distanced position. They appreciate precisely what people such as
Kos’kov consider to be errors: interdisciplinary approaches, drawing on
the findings of philosophy and sociology, and an orientation towards the
harmonisation of the environment rather than sheer profit
popular press, was, by 1929, already legitimate and established as
‘mainstream medicine’ – hence the ‘scandal’. 56 On the one hand, Finsen’s Nobel Prize
(1903), Gauvain’s knighthood (1920), and ongoing royal sanctioning indicates
that it was a legitimate medical therapy by this time. On the other hand,
light therapy’s zealous use and popularity caused the MRC considerable
distress from the early 1920s onwards, as Edwards himself showed, because
experimentation with textures in the 1960s; hence the popularity of pulegoso in the
3 Jacques Rancière, ‘Foreword’, in The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the
Sensible (London: Continuum, 2006), p. 10.
4 Jacques Rancière, ‘Artistic Regimes and the Shortcomings of the Notion of
Modernity’, in The Politics of Aesthetics, p. 21.
5 Boris Groys, The Total Art of Stalinism: Avant-garde, Aesthetic Dictatorship, and
Beyond (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992).
6 Matthew Cullerne Bown, Socialist Realist Painting (New Haven, CT: Yale
therapy took place in hospitals, sanatoria, spas, and in private and public
clinics, at schools and factories, on the beach, and in the home. 3 It could be expensive
(home-use lamps were pricey) or free when physicians or medical officers of
health sent poor children and adults to council-run or charitable
By 1928, when The Times distributed ‘Sunlight and
Health’, light therapy had reached its zenith in popularity
attack. On the contrary, these consumer choices found understanding as a legitimate reaction to ‘the striving of a small group of design
specialists to offer people, in a centralised manner, a ready and complete
model of material environment’.85 Pereverzev’s text exemplifies an internal critique of VNIITE design policy and attitudes that unfolded simultaneously with the development of neodecorativism in decorative art. Both
processes captured and responded to the growing popularity of antiques
and rising anti-urban moods among Soviet intellectuals that were reflected
by 1970. While
commitment to citizens’ prosperity was Brezhnev’s strategy to oppose the
voluntarism of his predecessor and maintain his own popularity, the quality of consumer goods could not steadily grow because of systemic industrial flaws, such as outdated equipment, poor supply of materials, and the
ongoing prevalence of quantitative plan indicators that precluded qualitative improvement. At the same time, as Natalia Chernyshova demonstrates
in her study of Brezhnev-era consumption, by the 1970s Soviet people had
grown more familiar with Western consumer goods
lights clearly found a new market in the 1890s in the wake of Edison’s
incandescent bulbs’ tremendous popularity and commercial exploitation.
See also Bazerman, Edison’s Light , p. 337.
‘Light Treatment in Hospitals’, The Times ,
‘Sunlight and Health’ special supplement, 22 May 1928, pp. xxxi–xxxii,
at p. xxxii. This is also cited in Jamieson, ‘An Intolerable