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Arts and Crafts

Arts and CraftsCharacteristic 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" period.
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.

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