When two worlds collide
A new exhibition at Erarta combines two ideologically opposed concepts.
Published: January 30, 2013 (Issue # 1744)
Barykin’s pieces represent a fusion of Soviet and U.S. poster art styles.
“Soviet Pin-Up,” which sees the merging of Soviet social posters with American pin-up art, is a genre that couldn’t have existed just a few decades ago. But now the style, represented by posters by Valery Barykin, an artist from Nizhny Novgorod, is being showcased — and even sold — at Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art.
In the Soviet Union, social posters portraying happy, rosy-cheeked citizens were used to deliver an all-encompassing range of messages, from warnings on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption to encouraging workers to look after their tools and young people to exercise regularly, and of course, to promote Communist tenets.
The American pin-up style, which appeared in the 1930s and ’40s, was more about sex than socialism, and consisted of printed images of glamour and fashion models or actresses that could be pinned to the wall. This aesthetic reached its peak in the ’50s, when magazines were packed with scantily clad beauties.
“The most interesting thing about the exposition is collaboration and mixture. It is global art on the one hand, but a focus on Soviet history on the other hand,” said Polina Zakharova, director of Erarta Galleries.
Barykin’s exhibition consists of 17 limited edition posters that can be bought in two sizes: 130 centimeters x 90 centimeters, and 90×60, priced at 25,000 rubles ($830) and 10,000 rubles ($332) each, respectively.
“It is our first limited edition project,” said Zakharova. “This format is now very popular abroad, especially in the U.K. and U.S.”
Sales of original posters represent a chance for collectors to buy works signed by the artist.
“Poster art is popular because it still gives a sense of exclusivity; you buy an original work, but it is more affordable than a masterpiece,” said Zakharova.
While many of the young people visiting the show at Erarta will be familiar with the works of Barykin from the Internet, for their parents, the exhibition represents a chance to see how the Soviet poster has survived and evolved in contemporary art, and to recall its role in the U.S.S.R.
Nowadays, a lot of modern art first appears on the Internet, but still has to be exhibited to prove its significance.
“It is a logical release of Internet art,” said Zakharova. “There are more and more projects every year that begin on the Internet and end up in real exhibition spaces all over the world.”
Erarta Galleries is the department of the museum of the same name that promotes modern Russian art for sale. With branches in London, New York, Zurich and one soon to be opened in Hong Kong, Erarta promotes modern Russian art far beyond the boundaries of the former Soviet Union. Forthcoming projects, according to Zakharova, will be realized in collaboration with Dmitry Shorin (whose sculpture for the project “I Believe in Angels” can now be seen in the galleries) and Maksim Kaetkin, an artist from Perm.
“Soviet Pin-Up” runs through March 11 at Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art, 2, 29th Liniya,
Vasilyevsky Island. Tel. 324 0809.
www.erarta.com. Entrance is free of charge.