GENERICO.ruCultureNew women: the main exhibition of the year opened at the Museum of Moscow

New women: the main exhibition of the year opened at the Museum of Moscow

MOSCOW, April 25, Svetlana Vovk.Revolutionary, weaver, metro construction worker, engineer's wife, artist – after the revolution, women acquired many social roles. Feminist dreams of equality and the construction of a new society came true, life and fashion changed. The Museum of Moscow's largest exhibition this year, “Muscovite Woman. Women of the Soviet Capital of the 1920s and 1930s,” is dedicated to this topic. How the exhibition is organized, what is presented and why it is worth seeing is in the material .

Theme and exhibits

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“The exhibition takes a step towards understanding the revolution that occurred with women and their social role after the October Revolution. We tried to show this transformation, the personal stories of Muscovites,” says museum director Anna Trapkova.

More than two thousand exhibits: paintings, posters, monumental, patchwork and embroidered panels, sculptures from more than 25 Russian museums and private collections. Including works by Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Deineka, Alexander Labas, Alexander Tyshler, Konstantin Yuon, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Ilya Mashkov.

The exhibition halls are stylized to resemble urban spaces – streets, squares, avenues. On the screens – a documentary chronicle of everyday work in the 1920s-1930s.

From the general to the specific

In Moscow, the textile industry was actively revived and the clothing industry was formed. Muscovites worked in these economically important industries. The main Soviet women's magazine “Rabotnitsa” was named in honor of the textile workers. It’s interesting to see from the covers which heroines the country looked up to.

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From each hall there is an entrance to small rooms – “apartments” (the exact historical address is even indicated on the walls) of famous artists who invented paintings on fabric and clothing models. This is Vera Mukhina (not everyone knows that the author of the famous sculpture “Worker and Collective Farm Woman” created the design of hats and costumes), Lyudmila Mayakovskaya, the poet’s sister, who headed the airbrush workshop at the Trekhgornaya Manufactory factory, Margarita Inozemtseva, a student of Yuon and Korovin, Valentina Khodasevich, who worked in the magazine “The Art of Dressing”. The design of these private chamber spaces traces the stories of their owners; their personal belongings and examples of creativity are displayed there. In the room of actress Lyubov Orlova, who played the standard weaver, there are large mirrors with lighting, like in a dressing room, movie posters.

Moscow Bottom

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The first hall is a prologue, where expressive portraits of representatives of different social strata of the 1920s-1930s are collected. In the section “Woman and Revolution” there is a very emotional picture: Fanny Kaplan’s assassination attempt on Lenin. A bright bilingual poster “Red Moscow – the heart of the proletarian revolution” invites you to visit the socialist capital.

In the NEP section – the Moscow market crowd, bohemian women.

There is a hall about the fight against prostitution. “Lenin did not condemn prostitution, he believed that this was a woman in trouble, and the Soviet government should help her. It is not her who should be blamed, but the capitalists who are being dragged to the bottom. In Fyodor Bogorodsky’s painting “Moscow Bottom” this is exactly the position. The heroes are like that young proletarians who, perhaps, will come to their senses,” says exhibition curator Nadezhda Plungyan.
Serafima Ryangina's work “Wife” is a sketch on an everyday topic. “Everything is clear here, a worker moved to the city, settled down and got himself another woman. His wife arrives with bales and a child. And what should this recent peasant woman, suddenly thrown out onto the street, do? There is both a social problem and some kind of edifying message here. Amazing documentation and very high the quality of the painting,” notes the curator.

Girl in a red headscarf

The “Life of a Working Woman” hall is the aesthetics of constructivism and industrial romance. In the conceptual painting by Konstantin Yuon, a worker visits her mother in the village. The city girl of the new generation looks completely alien against the background of the old way of life – bourgeois elephants on the chest of drawers, lace napkins.

"Section "Drummers" dedicated to the improved worker. This is already a kind of superwoman, since the mid-1930s she has been turning into a new person. A double, triple burden falls on her shoulders. This is such a main heroine of the state,” explains Nadezhda Plungyan.

Next to the painting by Konstantin Istomin, which depicts a metro construction site, there is a quotation from a working woman that they wore miner’s hats and huge, uncomfortable overalls with style.
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"An important commentary to this room is the sculptural portrait of a worker. This is the same Komsomol member 20 years later. Hard industrial work has aged her, but a certain depth and radiance emanates from her. There is a feeling that she is part of history, maybe she is creating it,” adds the curator.

Life has become better

In the section “Life has become better,” named after Stalin’s phrase, there is a poster: the new woman of the mid-1930s gives a speech from the podium, votes, holds sanitary defenses, designs buildings. She is both a tractor driver and a textile worker, but motherhood appears and comes to the fore.

The “Wives of Engineers” movement was organized by Sergo Ordzhonikidze. His bust is the only male portrait in the exhibition. Also on display in this room is a ribbon from the funeral wreath of the Society of Engineers' Wives from the funeral of the People's Commissar who shot himself in 1938. “He completely depoliticized the Soviet women’s movement, turned it into a charitable organization for the wives of responsible employees who improve the lives of workers as best they can,” the curator clarifies.

Artists of the late 1930s depicted the modern woman as a kind of ancient goddess. Thus, Sergei Gerasimov painted three pilots, heroes of the Soviet Union Osipenko, Grizodubova and Raskova, not in uniform, but in dresses made of light crepe de Chine. They walk across the field like Soviet Venuses.

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In the “Behind the Scenes” section there are non-mainstream images: the intelligentsia, bohemians, people from the nobility, the clergy. They seem to be superfluous in this construction of time, but without them the picture of the era would be incomplete.
“The central image here is “Schema Abbess Tamar” by Pavel Korin from his unfinished work of the mid-1930s “The Passing Rus'”. She was arrested, a few years later she returned from exile. The artist painted it very shortly before his death,” said Nadezhda Plungyan.

The exhibition “Muscovite. Women of the Soviet capital of the 1920s–1930s,” which is open until August 25, can be viewed without a guide – quite complete information is posted on the walls in each section. It is worth setting aside two hours to visit the exhibition.

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