Friday book #2: Soviet Porcelain

The second book in my new Friday series is another catalogue, this one from an exhibition in Toronto about 20 years ago of porcelain produced in the early years of the Soviet Union and subsequently collected by Craig and Kay Tuber. As the catalogue explains, following the Bolshevik seizure of power, ‘the workers of the State Porcelain Factory in Petrograd redirected the purpose of aristocratic tableware from the embellishment of banquets to the promotion of urgent social concerns’. The result was a unique and quite striking form of propaganda.


On the whole, I’m not a great porcelain fan, but I do like early Soviet art, particularly the work of Suprematists like Kazimir Malevich. The first decade of Soviet rule witnessed an exciting revolution in artistic forms. Then, sadly, Joseph  Stalin and his crony Andrei Zhdanov brought it all to an end by insisting that artists conform to the third-rate standards of Socialist Realism. By the end of the 1920s, the great days of Soviet porcelain were over.

Here are a couple of items from the exhibition as shown in the book:

Mikhail Adamovich, ‘Lenin with star’, 1921
Vladimir Lebedev, ‘Pravda’, no date

10 thoughts on “Friday book #2: Soviet Porcelain”

  1. My aunt is a collector of the Soviet porcelianand knows a great deal about it, but she specializes on “figurines”. Neither she nor I can agree with the statement that 1920s were some sort of the “golden age” of the Soviet porcelian (rus. фарфор) and Leningradskiy Farforoviy Zavod (rus. ЛФЗ) – its more likely began in 1960s.

    Here, are a few examples from her collection:

    Cheechikov from the “Dead Souls” by Gogol:

    Dobchinskiy and Bobchinskiy from the “Revizor” by Gogol:


      1. Well, if Russia could claim him as theirs then why not Ukraine? 🙂 Beauty of globalisation…

        Oh, we know all about Ukrainian approach to the “globalisation” and cultural appropriation:



    1. Another sad anniversary today. On the night 19-20 January 1990 a href=””>Soviet tanks killed over 130 protesters in Azerbeijan.


      1. Sorry for that, it was “Soviet tanks” but as I was typing on my phone it somehow became garbled.

        As for the Kvasnik movie – I don’t think it really proves anything as these “Noe was our tribesman” theories is present is virtually every nation out there, especially those who, apart from having ancient history, don’t really have many achievements today. It’s very popular in Caucasus, Greece and almost all Slavic nations, including Russia and Ukraine of course.

        But I wouldn’t be worried about this local folklore. I’m more worried when such pseudo-scientific nonsense is repeated by heads of states, such as in recent Putin’s interview for Bild, where he’s using classic “sacred geography” arguments as popularized by Dugin (e.g. “it is not borders and state territories that matter, but people’s fortunes”).


  2. “But I wouldn’t be worried about this local folklore. I’m more worried when such pseudo-scientific nonsense is repeated by heads of states, such as in recent Putin’s interview for Bild, where he’s using classic “sacred geography” arguments as popularized by Dugin (e.g. “it is not borders and state territories that matter, but people’s fortunes”).”

    The Bild interview from which Free and Honest Western Journalists ™ decided to cut entire parts not fitting their narrative? Have you read it – or the full version, cortez2? Otherwise if you gonna judge the interie interview by a small excerpt is like a punchline in that old anecdote: “I don’t like how your “Beatles” – they are signing flat! Yesterday a neighbor of mine tried to sing their songs – they sounded awful.”

    If you’d decided to do something unusual for yourself, cortez2, and instead of referencing a tertiary source to support your already established conclusion (i.e. “Russia is Evul”), and instead tried to read the original, you’d find an amazing thing instead.

    You’d find a gigantic (as the US state dept) number of discrepancies and mistranslations in the English version. Say, just one example:

    “BILD: Should NATO just have said no? It wouldn’t have survived that, because …

    (Putin asks back, suddenly in German, ignoring the interpreter): Why not?

    BILD: Because it is part of NATO’s rules and self-understanding to accept free countries as members if they want to and if they fulfill certain conditions.

    Putin (still in German): Who has written these rules? The politicians, right?”

    The President then switches back to Russian.)

    Putin: Nowhere is it written that NATO had to accept certain countries. All that would have been required to refrain from doing so was the political will. But people didn’t want to.

    In the original this part looks completely different:

    “Вопрос: Насколько я понял из Ваших высказываний, НАТО следовало бы в то время сказать восточноевропейским государствам, что оно не будет их принимать в свой состав. Как Вы думаете, НАТО смогло бы это пережить?

    В.Путин: Конечно.

    Вопрос: Но это же в уставе НАТО зафиксировано.

    В.Путин: Но кто пишет устав? Люди. Что, разве в уставе написано, что НАТО обязано принимать всех кто захочет? Нет. Нужны критерии, нужны условия. Была бы политическая воля, всё бы смогли сделать, если бы захотели. Не хотели просто. Хотели царствовать. Уселись на этот трон. И что дальше? Теперь мы обсуждаем кризисные ситуации. “

    Anyone even with rudimentary knowledge of Russian will tell you that this part was too “creatively” mis-translated.

    And as for your boogeymannish accusation of Duginism (are you afraid, cortez2? can you sleep tight at night?) this is how this part of the interview looks in reality. Compare a version for the Enlightened Western Public(tm):

    “BILD: But one cannot simply challenge European state borders.

    Putin: For me, it is not borders and state territories that matter, but people’s fortunes.

    BILD: What about international law?

    Putin: Of course one always has to follow international law. This was also the case in Crimea. According to the Charter of the United Nations, every people has the right to self-determination. Just take Kosovo: back then, UN bodies decided that Kosovo should become independent of Serbia and that the interests of Serbia’s central government had to be subordinated. You can read that in all the records, also in the German ones.”

    And Russian original:

    “Вопрос: Но границы ‒ это составная часть европейского миропорядка. Вы говорили о том, что это как раз очень важно, в том числе и в плане расширения НАТО.

    В.Путин: Это важно ‒ всегда соблюдать международное право. В случае с Крымом международное право не нарушено. В соответствии с Уставом Организации Объединённых Наций каждый народ имеет право на самоопределение. В случае с Косово Международный суд ООН определил, что при решении вопроса о суверенитете мнение центральных властей можно не учитывать. Возьмите, если вы серьёзное издание, честное перед своими читателями, поднимите из архива выступление представителя ФРГ на этом Международном суде и процитируйте его. Возьмите письмо, по-моему, американский госдеп писал, или выступление представителя Великобритании. Возьмите и прочитайте, что там написано. Косово заявило о своей независимости, и весь мир принял это, по сути, знаете, каким способом? “

    Not a word about “people’s fortunes” and any other crypto-Duginism that was probably inserted on purpose. But, hey, we know that the Western Independent Media ™ is Freest of the Free and the Shining Paragon of Objectivity. Trying to shape your ignorant populace’s perception of other countries? Pfft! Perish the thought!


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