#2 2017 (55)
Depictions of everyday life - showing people engaged with their usual activities, in their accustomed home surroundings - have long been common in world art. In 20th century Russia, however, attitudes towards domestic life - byt, in the general Russian word - and indeed towards the concept of the home itself, underwent dramatic shifts. In the past, the home had been seen as a safe, contained space, offering its inhabitants comfort, warmth and a sense of safety. However, following the cataclysmic upheavals of the early 20th century, the radical ideology that took over in Soviet Russia sought to portray the comforts of home as pernicious for those who belonged to the new social order: this “counter-force” governed everything from home furnishings to Mayakovsky’s otherwise blameless canaries.
A show of 20th century graphic art in the Krymsky Val building offered a range of perspectives from Russian and Soviet artists on the subject of the home and the domestic world, commenting too on the associated social connotations that themselves changed through the period concerned.