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Messages - tobik

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Imperial Russian Antiques / Re: purchasing imperial memorabilia
« on: November 28, 2005, 06:27:16 AM »
Though this has been discussed elsewhere when I mentioned my views on items remaining in their countries of production, I must point out the seeming contradiction espoused by some.

Either you believe that objects should be restituted to the original owners, (an idea I strongly disagree with at least where 1917 is concerned)meaning that many imperial and other treasures having to leave the country or at least, if an export license was not granted, then going back into private collections where they would not be seen.  

Or you believe that the so called national treasures i.e. kitsch Faberge Eggs etc. should be the property of the Russian people, and should be made available for all see.  This could only be achievable if the items remained the property of the state thus justifying the Bolshevik nationalisation of treasures.

All these calls for restituting national treasures are totally impractical.  Life's not fair and war plunder is a part of life.  It is something that every major country in Europe (with the possible exception of England) has suffered from.

Let bygones be bygones, but if you want to call for Russia's plundered treasures to be returned, perhaps one ought first to get Russia to return the Schlieman (sp) treasures from Troy, the countless Impressionist Masterpieces which they stole etc. but most important of all, to admit that its own soldiers burnt the Amber Room in Kaliningrad in 1945 and to stop trying to use the case to gain political leverage and moral justification in the battle to get war loot returned.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Political Art
« on: November 27, 2005, 02:06:05 PM »
OK here's a basic list of works.  Forgive me if I have made a few errors of date, but my library is in England and I live in I may have missed a few.  Anyway the following works deal with agit prop porcelain c.1918-1924.

Emme, Ruskii Khudozhestvenyi Farfor, 1950 - A beautiful and rare book but it deals mostly with Stalin era porcelain.

A.K.Lansere, Sovietsky Farfor - OK, but nothing special and very little text.

L. Nikiforova - Russky Farfor v Ermitazhe, 1973 - A good book but with only a few illustrations of Agit porcelain

Lydia Andreeva, Sovietsky Farfor 1920-30 - the best book in any language, both for text and illustrations.

Farfor: Pervykh Let oktyabr'skoy revolutsii -  Undated exhibition catalogue from State History Museum. - OK illustrations and text but not very long or substantial.

V.Tolstoy, Sovetskoe dekorativnoe iskusstvo : farfor, faians, steklo : Materialy i dokumenty, 1917-1932, 1980 - Invaluable compendium of contemporary documents.

D.Shinn, Revolution, Life and Labour (1918 - 1985) - some nice 1930's examples but insubstantial exhibition catalogue.

Nina Lobanov Rostovsky, Revolutionary Ceramics: Soviet Porcelain 1917-1927 - a good introduction to the subject. Easy to find.

News From a Radiant Future: Soviet Porcelain From The Collection of Craig H. And Kay A. Tuber. - A good exhibition catalogue with excellent articles.  I thoroughly reccomend this. Easy to find.

E.Sametskaya, Sovetskii agitatsionnyi farfor, 2004 - Beautifully produced and illustrated book.  Wondeful pix - a must have.

Somerset House exhibition catalogue from 2004 is very good.

Also in 2005 a comprehensive history of the Imperial/State/Lomonosov Factory was produced in three volumes.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Political Art
« on: November 27, 2005, 01:48:34 PM »
So, your saying even copies of Soviet art posters are worth something. That's good to know. Does anyone now what prices copies may go for? I've got quite a few in my collection folder. Thanks for the input.


Copies of Soviet posters are really not worth anything at all.  I'm not quite sure where you picked this idea up from.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Political Art
« on: November 27, 2005, 01:46:36 PM »
Also, thank you for the tip about fakes. I sort of thought that.  I did not realise that the time period was so limited on this. No wonder the prices are so high. I was happy with the pieces I found in the early 1970's but had no idea that they were so old. I thought perhaps being made in the 50"s. They looked like it to me.

Many use the term agit prop to describe anything from the Soviet period which propagandises the values of the state.  While technically this is correct, I prefer to use it only for art produced during the Civil War.

Production of propaganda porcelain in one form or another (though it differed in quality and quantity from the 1920's output) continued throughout the Soviet period, so without having seen the pieces you refer to, it is impossible to say when they would have dated from.

When I talk of Agit prop porcelain I am really only talking of the pieces produced during the early twenties from the SPF and perhaps also pieces from the late twenties from the Dulevo works.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Political Art
« on: November 27, 2005, 11:29:41 AM »
Robert - the most important contemporary books are

Gollerbakh, La Porcelaine de la Manufacture de L'Etat, 1922 - A rare book, published in only 750 copies. Contains good articles on the factory.  In Russian.  Copy will cost upwards of £100-150.

Gollerbakh and Farmakovsky, La Porcelaine D'Art Russe, 1924 - Again a rare book, published in an edition of 2,000 copies.  In Russian.  It will cost upwards of £150-200.  It's the best though.

There were also several articles published.  I particularly reccomend the article in Khudozhestvenny Trud, No 1, 1919 which gives a history of the IPF and explains problems facing the factory in the post revolutionary period.  A couple of good articles were also published in Sovietsky Kollektsioner.

Apart from this, Artisitic Director Sergei Chekhonin produced a small pamplet on the factory, but I have never seen this.  And there was also a booklet produced to coincide with a 1919 exhibition of the revolutionary porcelain in Russia.

There is also a collection of contemporary documents taken from the Russian archives which was published in Russia under the title - Farfor, Faience, Steklo, Edited by V. Tolstoy, 1980.

I understand that the above books are not easy to get hold of so I will also when I have a mo provide the best contemporary books.

One more thing - Be aware that c.90% of agit prop porcelain currently for sale is fake.  (By agit prop I am only talking about ceramics produced from 1918-c.1928) Although a lot of genuine porcelaine has appeared at auction in the West, I have probably seen only 12 pieces for sale in Russia a period of over two years, and almost never for under a thousand pounds.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Political Art
« on: November 27, 2005, 11:16:27 AM »
If I've got the right one this is a famous image from the 1920's - it's in the constructivist style with a black background... or you could mean another one with a woman against a background of smoking factories, in which case the Russian would indeed be Vsegda Gotov - the motto of the pioneers.

I had a quick check on the internet but didn't turn up anything - it's pretty popular though.  You can of this poster find a copy very easily in Russia.  As for an original, unless you have a couple of thousand odd spare...

The Russian Revolution / Re: Soviet Political Art
« on: November 25, 2005, 12:18:33 PM »
The agit-prop porcelain, I agree, is quite fantastic, and was thought of such at the time.  Lunacharsky called it the first ambassador of the USSR abroad.  

There's some great literature on the subject, though mainly in Russian.  The simplest English introduction to the subject is Nina Lobanov Rostovsky's 'Revolutionary Ceramics.'  (This book however contain mistakes, and is more of value for its pictures than its text.)

if anyone is interested in a more complete list, let me know, as I have long collected contemporary and later literature on agit porcelain.

If you are interested in seeing examples of the porcelain from this brilliant period in Soviet decorative arts...

In Petersburg the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory Museum has now opened to the public and is run by the Hermitage.  I saw it when it was still a private museum, and can confirm that the collection, which spans 18th-20th Century, is mind boggling.

Also examples in the Museum of Political History also in Pete.

In Moscow the Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts has the best collection, although the Museum of Contemporary History also has some good examples.

In London the V and A has a few examples on display.

Also coming up in in London see the Russian sales in late November at Bonhams, Christies and Sothebys.

The Russian Revolution / Re: Future of the Russian Nation
« on: November 23, 2005, 02:24:33 PM »

Am most interested by your experience with the dagestanis, mine sadly have not stretched much beyond them trying to sell me a hat in Izmailovsky Park market!

I will elaborate my concerns with Makhachkala when I have a spare mo.



News Links / Re: Preserve Lenin or bury him?
« on: November 16, 2005, 09:13:56 AM »

This is why I believe that if they do bury Lenin (or cremate him), it's important to keep the mausoleum intact.  Turn the mausoleum in a museum.

Though it is perhaps not the central issue at stake, a point ought to be made about the architectural importance of the Mausoleum.

It is a very fine example of Constructivist architecture, unique in its use of high quality materials, and one that should under no circumstances be destroyed.

All over Moscow the wonderful examples of Constructivism are being destroyed through deliberate neglect - Rusakov Centre, Melnikov house etc, so to destroy such an important monument as the Mausoleum would in my view be almost as great a folly as knocking down St.Basil's.  

Further to this, destroying the mausoleum would be an attempt to erase history, not dissimilar to the iconoclasm of the Bolsheviks in 1917.  The Communist symbolic power of the Mausoleum is undoubtedly still strong, but its presence on Red Square will serve in years to come as a timely reminder (as Auschwitz now does) of a despotic regime.

Symbols and objects can always be reinterpreted.  Different generations will always place a different set of values on inanimate objects, be they works of art, buildings or everyday objects.

Please remove Lenin by all means, but lets not try and pretend that Communism never happened by erasing all trace of it.  Freud would not agree but I say, let proceeding generations carry the knowledge and guilt of their forefather's actions.  As the famous Cicero comment goes, 'he who does not know history is destined to remain a child forever.'

News Links / Re: National Day of Unity -- November 4th
« on: November 13, 2005, 06:33:20 AM »
I have been absolutely outraged by an advert I saw on TV last night from the Rodina Party.

The advert shows three Caucasian (probably Azerbaijani) looking people sitting eating watermelons.  A white Russian woman passes with her baby, the Caucasians ignore her and continue to chuck their watermelon skins on the ground.  At this point the camera pans round to Rogozin and a sidekick who says to the Caucasians, 'Enough is enough.  It's Russian - Do you understand?'  The Rodina logo then appears with the words, 'It's time to clean (ochistit' - a word which can also mean purge) Moscow of this rubbish (musor).'

It does not make much effort to realise that the advert is not referring to the watermelons chucked to the ground, but the Azeris themselves.  One can imagine the outrage if this was broadcast in the West, but here in Russia only too many approve.  This is what I mean when I say that pro nationalist sentiments and more importantly the absolute refusal to give immigrants any proper status, is creating a ticking time bomb.  Forget France, in Russia it'll be far worse.

The Final Chapter / Authentic murder weapons?/Gun that shot the last Tsar
« on: November 11, 2005, 07:30:02 AM »
I'm not sure how many people know that one of the pistols which was used to kill the Romanov family (indeed it may even be Yurovsky's own) is on display in the Museum of Contamporary History in Moscow.

I have long been in two minds whether it is correct to display the weapon or not and have eventually come to the conclusion that it probably is.  After all if the dagger that Brutus used to kill Caesar still survived, it would surely also be on display.

I'd be interested to know your (unsentimental) views.

The Russian Revolution / Re: The Hanging of Alexander Ulyanov
« on: November 11, 2005, 07:15:18 AM »
In all this talk of Lenin as a sociopath and a vile killer, there is inherent refusal to acknowledge the fact that the decision to kill the Tsar and the family was a sensible one.

Trying to blame the decision to kill the Romanovs on Lenin's cruelty is an easy way out.  The unpalatable truth is that given the circumstances, killing the Romanovs was the best option for the Bolsheviks.

I know these comments will outrage many of those blind eyed devotees of the Romanovs, so I don't mean to cause controversy, but let's not forget there was a Civil War going on.  Hundreds of thousands died without cause, but for the Bolsheviks there was very good cause to rid themselves of a potential figure head for the counter revolutionaries.

Faced with the same decision and given all the options, I reckon I would probably have done the same thing if I had been in Yurovsky's position.  (This a cold blooded assesment of situation, not a condonement of his actions.)

To say Lenin had a vendetta is ridiculous, what he had was ruthless determination to fulfil his aims.  Whether he did not or did not give the order there can be little doubt that he would have approved.

The Russian Revolution / Re: The Hanging of Alexander Ulyanov
« on: November 11, 2005, 07:13:02 AM »
Actually Etonxile, you brought up a very important question :

Did anyone ever make statement, photograph, or see comrade lenin 'weep'. I doubt he knew what the word was, or that he could find that emotion alive in his person...

Perhaps a thread alone should be started on that subject of Lenin Weeping...

Tatiana [Tania]

To have expressed remorse or emotion was strictly against Bolshevik creed.

Note the revolutionary song which contains the line, 'Do not weep, do not weep men over the fallen bodies of our comrades, march on etc. '

There is an excellent book called of 'night of stone' by Catherine Merridale which deals with suffering and memory in twentieth century Russia which expands on the issue of remorse.

News Links / Re: National Day of Unity -- November 4th
« on: November 11, 2005, 06:33:56 AM »

The Russian people I communicate with regularily inside Russia disagree with your assertions.

Please give the Russian people more credit, while it may be few this year, more will understand the meaning of this new national day of celebration.

To rid democratic Russia from celebrating a bloody bolshevik takeover is the right direction to travel.

I think we shall agree to differ on this issue.  Living and working here in Moscow, I obviously have a different perspective on things from someone who is outside the country.

I continue to try and give the Russian people credit where it is due, however in this case I do not see any credit should be given for the fact that they have created an erroneous holiday out of nothing all in order to appease the Orthodox Church (do not forget also that this holiday coincides with the religious holiday of Our Lady of Kazan, but bares no link to the end of the time of troubles) and capitalise on anti foreign feelings in the Russian population in general.

I don't have an issue with holiday creation, indeed I would welcome a holiday on the date of e.g. Alexei's Coronation (as was celebrated in Tsarist days) which genuinely marked the end of the time of troubles.

What I have an issue with is political capital being made out of nothing.  All this holiday is designed to do is link Putin with an era he has nothing to do with and promote him as the champion of Russian nationalist feelings.

I'm sorry but one has be realistic about Russia today.  All this wishy washy, 'give Russia a chance,' and blind eyed devotion to the place that is constantly espoused in this site, will get one nowhere.  While criticisers of Russia abroad are villified in the local press and are often described as Russia haters and relics of the cold war, I would maintain that we criticise the place because we love it so much and despair to see the people continue to be trodden over by their rulers.

So bring on the genuine holidays, but why get rid of a holiday of national unity and reconciliation (what the Nov 7th became under Yeltsin) that in years to come would have been seen as a genuinely symbolic celebration of triumph over adversity in order to create some rubbish like they have?

News Links / Re: National Day of Unity -- November 4th
« on: November 09, 2005, 02:17:33 AM »
Please.  This holiday is an insulting joke.  

It is an anti Catholic and anti Polish move designed to win approval the Orthodox Church and create a bit of fake nationalism.  The holiday date bears no resemblance to historical reality - there is no possible reason to celebrate it on November 4th apart from the fact that it is near Nov 7th.  I haven't got the time to explain the history but there has been a myriad of articles written in the press about the ridiculousness and irrelevance of this holiday.

It is a fake holiday which no ordinary Russian understands, indeed as shown by events the only people who celebrated it were the disgusting fascist nationalist groups who took to the streets in their masks and banners to protest against all immigrants in Russia.

Putin continues to play with fire over the nationalist issue, and this holiday stokes the flames.

Russia should have stayed with the old holiday date of Nov 7th, which had become officially The Day of Unity and Reconciliation.  Though the old holiday was still celebrated by the Communists (as it still be), this holiday was a signal that Russia was attempting to move on and apologise for what happened.   This was the only move by Yeltsin to try and crush the symbolic power of Nov 7th.  It was an important significant move that has now been done away with, by our friend in the Kremlin...

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