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: