Arts and Crafts
Characteristic feature of the Russian
decorative art is its mass character and "co-operation".
The Russian decorative art is mainly 'anonymous', we know the names
of firms rather than of artists (Gambs' furniture firm, Charles
Faberzhe's jeweller firm). Wall painting, weaving, anonymous masters
working under the projects of great architects, created masterpieces
of Russian interior. In the 20th century of constructivism creative
art of such inventors of a new world of things as Vladimir Tatlin
and Lazar Lisitsky became popular. But the Stalin regime replaced
men of genius by state monopoly and 'tyranny of deficiency'. Nevertheless
Russian art created many valuable things in many fields.
First developed forging and jewelry
making refer to the time of Scythians and related tribes that lived
in the territory of the Black sea, Chernozem region and Siberia.
Characteristic feature of arts of people who lived in these territories
is so-called Scythian 'animal' (teratological) style. As the Northern
Slavs came in touch with the Baltic and Scandinavian tribes they
adopted another variant of 'animal' style in which ornament includes
parts of animal and human bodies binding with each other whimsically.
In the Ural, the Finno-Ugrian tribes made amulets decorating them
with stylized images of bears and wolves, first materials they used
were wood and stone and only then bronze. Ladles cut out from wood
and decorated with the heads of elks, deer and ducks are famous
for plastic expressiveness. These traditions had been long kept
in the Russian folk art.
For many centuries up to the twenties
of the 20th century, handicraft provided villages and towns with
clay, wooden and metal utensils, wooden and ceramic toys, print,
carpets and other things. Khokhloma wooden utensils, bright and
cheerful wood painting, Dymka clay figures and penny whistles, Lukuta
varnished and painted caskets became especially popular.
Remarkable crafts were developed by peoples of the Russian North,
Siberia, the Far East, and the Caucasus. Crafts of Dagestan auls
are also known, among them Kubachi (processing of metal), Balkhar
(painted ceramics), Untsukul (silver notching made on wood).
In Soviet times former icon-painting
workshops went over to painting caskets. In Palekha (Ivanovskaya
oblast) I.I.Golikov and other craftsmen developed delicate miniature
painting on black varnish with elements of fairy tales and national
songs. In ancient times Russia adopted the art of barrier and black
enamel, metal stamping, bone and wooden fretwork from Byzantium.
By the 17th century there had been formed developed art manufacture:
Rostov and Usol painted enamel, Veliky Ustyuzh silver blackening,
Nizhny Novgorod fretwork on log huts. Works of the decorative art
decorated temples and palaces.
During the time of Peter the First ruling
things of the West-European type came into use, such as faience,
cast and stamped utensils, upholstered furniture. In the 18th century
mirrors were first used. In the 18th century M.V. Lomonosov arranged
manufacturing of glass, mosaic smalt and mirrors. The best architects
of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century created sketches
of decorative furniture elements. A number of architects, such as
Rossi, Voronikhin worked as a decorator at first. Private enterprises
that worked masterly in the 19th century carried out orders of the
imperial court and aristocracy. The most famous trade-marks of that
time were Popov's porcelain plant, Kuznetsovs' faience and porcelain
factories. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th
century Savva Mamontov from Abramtsevo and Klavdiya Tenisheva from
Talashkino united professionals and national craftsmen to restore
the traditions of the Russian folk art. Elena Polenova, Nikolay
Rerikh, Michael Vrubel took part in this work. During the development
of modernist style majolica, Vrubel's stained-glass windows, furniture
made on sketches of Shekhtel, Fomin and Shusev determined a new
rise in Russian decorative art.
In early time of the Soviet power establishment
of Higher Art & Technical Workshops; new ideas of art manufacture;
new wooden and metal products created by Tatlin and Lisitsky; L.Popova's
and V.Stepanova's fabrics attached world importance to the works
of Russian artists and designers. They exerted a great influence
on the process of design art development in the 20th century.
"The great crisis" in 1929 interrupted the development
of design art in Russia. When in 1945 first trophy things from Germany
were supplied, poverty of the Soviet life, on the one hand, and
failure of bringing-up "people of new formation", tolerant
to "beautiful life", on the other hand, became obvious.
Probably, it was one of the reasons of "burst" of interest
to design that took place with the beginning of Khrushev's 'thaw"
Artists created amazingly beautiful and unique products: one can
enumerate the names of such masters, as Boris Smirnov, Vladimir
Olshevsky (glass and ceramics), Vera Mukhina, Galina Antonova, Svetlana
Beskinskaya (glass), Peter Leonov, Vladimir Gorodetsky (porcelain),
Alexandra Zabelina, Sulamif Zaslavskaya (fabrics).
At the beginning of "perestroika", high-quality foreign
products (both mass, and elite) were imported, that's why there
was urgent necessity of Russian industrial design development.