27 Jul One day in the artists’ studio
Lena Kovaleva our local guide in Moscow is very fond of art. She is very passionate about antiques, so when she’s not showing around travellers she can be found scouring Moscow’s flea markets or visiting local artists’ studios. Below is her text about this sphere of Moscow.
In 1920, the construction of an artists’ village began on the edge of Moscow, which eventually became an attractive place for the city’s cultural elite, where comfortable work conditions were created for artists and sculptors.
In spite of the devastation, the ideologists of the young Soviet government understood that the new society needed its own, renewed culture, therefore funds were allocated and “creative tasks” were set.
The village was designed in the form of a ship running along the waterway towards the new art. It consists of apartment houses, creative workshops, a canteen and a kindergarten.
The place was founded on the vacant lot of the burnt down Khanzhonkov old-film factory near the Dinamo stadium, the old Petrovskii Park, where artists could paint landscapes without having to leave the city.
Today, the artists’ studios houses, built between 1930-1950 on Upper Maslovka, the center of the sprawling city, are cultural monuments of regional significance.
Artists’ studios are huge, bright studios that were built in accordance with the latest architectural engineering techniques of the Soviet era. Entrances into the workshops were equipped with lifts and enlarged staircases for the passage of monumental canvases and sculptures up to the 10 meters height. Huge windows provide illumination to the spacious halls and corridors with a preserved historical interior.
Almost all of the well-known artists-members of the Artists’ Union of the USSR worked in the village, such as: Katzman, Adlivankin, Vyalov, Labas, Sergei Gerasimov, Pokazhevsky, Bogorodsky, Shegal, Grabar, Johansson, Radimov and so on.
According to old-timers, many of them befriended one another and greatly appreciated each other’s talents. A significant part of the Tretyakov Gallery’s exposition, as well as many of those statues installed on the streets and squares of Moscow, were created on Upper Maslovka. For example, one can recall Yuri Pimenov’s “New Moscow” (1937) and “The Daughter of Soviet Kirghizia” (1948) by Semen Chuikov, illustrations Evgeni Kibrik for Gogol’s Taras Bulba (1944-1945) and Dementii Shmarinov for Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1953), paintings of Georgi Niskiy, Arkady Plastov’s “Spring” (1954), the famous canvas “Low marks again” (1952) of Feodor Reshetnikov…
Today the village is inhabited by artists of our time, many of which are the 3rd generation of the dynasty of artists of the 1920s. One of them is Darya Nikitina, grand-daughter of the famous landscape painter Constantine Vasilyevich Churakov, her studio is located on the top floor of the legendary Block No.1 housing at Upper Maslovka.
Darya together with her husband, artist-monumentalist Ivan, has already been engaged in stained-glass and street art for over 15 years. The desire to make the city more beautiful, share their ideas with mass of people, forced them to move their art objects onto the streets of the city. A majority of the works are concentrated in the Artists’ Village district.
On boring brick walls they place global mirror compositions in which the sky and sunsets are reflected.
1. Octopus, Prospect Mira, 91/1 was created in 2013 from 6 cases of mirror trimming weighted 200 kg
2. Petrovsko-Razumovskaya alley, 8. “Sky fish project”, 2012
3. Turtles, Ostrovityanova, 9/2. Was created in 2012 as a part of “Sky fish project”
4. “Sky fish project”, 2013
Darya and Ivan are hospitable hosts, who are always happy to offer tea and arrange a Bohemian party for the guests of their historic studio. Sitting on the second floor of a 5-meter ceiling room, between canvases and artistic tools, one can endlessly look out at the panorama of the city.