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Soviet “Renaissance”. Look through half a century

Межмузейный проект «Оттепель» открывает заново эпоху 60-х

Москва, Фестиваль молодёжи и студентов, 1957 г.
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The thaw – a short but bright period in the history of the USSR. The era of scientific breakthrough, politics and the arts: man’s first flight into space, the splitting of the atom, the warming of international relations, VI world festival of youth and students. the Flourishing of science fiction and poetry. But most importantly, at this time there is a transformation of consciousness, breaking limitations, and the usual setup, to open up new possibilities.

The era of the 60’s through the eyes of modern man – the theme of the project “the Thaw”, in which took part the “Museum of Moscow”, the Tretyakov gallery, Museum of fine arts named after as Pushkin and the Sovremennik theatre and the Park of culture named after Gorky.

thaw in Moscow “Moscow city Museum”

The exhibition “Moscow thaw” covers the history of music, cinema, design, fashion, architecture and poetry of the thaw.

Eugenia Kikodze curator of the exhibition, "Moscow thaw"
Eugenia Kikodze, curator of the exhibition “Moscow thaw”

“We conduct open discussions: “City”,””, “research institutes”, “Physics and lyrics” is about how the architecture was changing, way of life, culture and science in the period of thaw. Also at the documentary film centre present a programme of films made in those years. Our exhibition is a return to the point from where starts modernity as such.”

Jazz fever

In 50-e years in the USSR, the rising tide of interest in jazz, which causes a sharply negative reaction of the authorities and cultural figures. Improvisation, the possibility of spontaneous self-expression and the free swinging rhythm made this music is the perfect metaphor of freedom.

Joseph Brodsky in the 60-ies
Joseph Brodsky in the 60 years

Joseph Brodsky remembered that even the gait of a Soviet person has changed under the influence of jazz: “the Joints of our very frigid Russian shells began to absorb the swing”.

Presentation Pop-Jazz orchestra of Leonid Utesov in Moscow
the Performance of the variety-jazz orchestra of Leonid Utesov in Moscow

From the late 50’s jazz recordings appear “on the edges” – the so-called improvised flexible records, material for which served the x-rays. In 1962, the newly built hotel “Yunost” opens Moscow jazz festival and Soviet musicians for the first time take part in international festival in Warsaw. In the public record company “Melody” for the first time printed album tracks domestic jazzmen. The edition sold out in a matter of days, and the album immediately becomes a rarity. In Moscow appear a cafe, where people come to talk on the forbidden theme first, listen to live music and dancing.

First synthesizer

the First synthesizer that was recorded tracks for the legendary films by Tarkovsky
the First synthesizer that was recorded tracks for the legendary Tarkovsky’s films

The world’s first synthesizer was created by a military engineer Evgeny Murzin, he gathered his in their shared apartment and called “Anse” – the initials of composer and innovator Alexander Nikolayevich Scriabin. Using the new tool was able to obtain a completely unusual sound of “space” spectrum. On this machine Eduard Artemiev he created the music for the legendary sci-Fi Thriller Tarkovsky “Solaris”, “Stalker” and “Mirror”.


Prom on the red square from the film
Outlet on red square from the film “Zastava Ilyich”

The main hero of the era – a young man, his confident look towards the future. By day he works or studies, and in the evening in a hurry for concerts, exhibitions, theatre, dance and poetry readings. Works Director Marlen Khutsiyev are considered thaw encyclopedia of life. The young people in his films enthusiastically read Remarque and Hemingway, critical of Stalin, dancing to the sounds of foreign music, and among the characters in the movie you can see young Tarkovsky and Konchalovsky. Endless musical party time heroes “July rain” in the cafe “lyre” blow money characters “Three days of Viktor Chernyshev”.


Gossip girl. Glass sculpture 60 years.
Gossip girl. Glass sculpture 60 years.

For the era of the thaw characteristic minimalism waiver of frills in favor of functionality. Furniture and furnishings are light and compact. Streamlined shape appeared in the glass products: statues, vases and carafes are “fluid”. Design wall clock is freed from unnecessary details – a departure from the petty-bourgeois attitude to watches as the luxury and decoration. Be the first portable radios and inexpensive cameras “Change”. Among young people, the craze for photography.

Projector slides, movie cameras, cameras and watches 60-ies
project slides, movie cameras, cameras and watches 60 years

In fashion there is freedom and emancipation, clothing becomes a way to Express individuality. In Moscow, opened an Atelier, where fashionistas sew outfits custom – fitted dresses with a fluffy skirt in black-eyed peas, broad vertical stripes, juicy or pastel colors.

Abstract art has become one of the most popular destinations. If the first subjects of the compositions were the images of city and nature, the later clearly sound critical themes and allegories. Artists boldly experiment with mixed techniques.

Architects design a huge structure with walls of glass to permit the sun’s light, making people happier and more cheerful. Built on this principle facades of the Kremlin Palace of congresses, the Palace of pioneers in the Lenin hills, the shops on Lenin, Kalinin (Novy Arbat), the Komsomol prospectus.

“the Thaw” in the Tretyakov gallery

a Conversation with my father

"Auschwitz" A. G hooks
“Auschwitz” by A. G hooks

Section “a Conversation with my father” is dedicated to the dialogue between two generations about the great Patriotic war.

Immediately after Stalin’s death and Khrushchev’s assertion at the head of the state has begun the process of rehabilitation of political prisoners was disbanded the Gulag, published the first works of prose camp: “One day of Ivan Denisovich” by Solzhenitsyn, the novel of George Shelest’s “the Nugget”. In “Lieutenant prose” the war is shown without the semi-official pathos and smoothing sharp points. In works of literature and painting have become common themes of tragedy and horror of war. People began to think about the true price of victory. Artist A. Vasnetsov depicted two widows, who look into the void, their faces almost wiped out.

monument to the dead from bombs
monument to the dead from bombs

V. A Siddur created a series about the victims of war. His sculptures are symbolic objects, which brought death to people, as well as images of prisoners in the camps.

Best city in the world

“Wedding on tomorrow’s street”. And Pimenov

Period of thaw – time for a radical change in the appearance of the city was taken on “de-Stalinization” of architecture. There is a struggle with a decorative “excesses” in architecture is dominated by rationalism. In place of the Stalinist Empire, with its palaces came democratic style of simple geometric forms with huge Windows, symbolizing the “policy of openness”.

Running across the street
Running across the street

The city becomes an open space. In the courts held a feast and dancing in the squares and in parks poets read poetry. A new image of the city is reflected in the paintings. Yuri Pimenov portrayed scenes of urban life against the background of new buildings: “Running across the street”, “District of tomorrow”, “the South-West. Suburb”. Urbanism is becoming the new direction in painting.

International relations

In 60-e years of the USSR is actively establishing communication with the outside world, especially with the countries of the Eastern bloc. At the forefront of the confrontation with the United States. The two superpowers compete not only in the arms race, but in the propaganda. Moscow is positioning itself as a world capital, conducting international events: scientific conferences, meetings of the peace. Regularly hosts national festivals and exhibitions of art from Syria, Egypt, Vietnam, Cuba, New Zealand and other countries.

In 1957, with extraordinary succes VI world festival of youth and students, which became “Dove of peace” Picasso. In Moscow tens of thousands of guests from America, Africa, Asia and Europe – young people from different countries gathered under the slogans of peace and friendship. Freedom is intoxicating and circled the head, in 1958 in Moscow was marked by the birth of hundreds of babies of mixed races: mulattos and mestizos, they even came to be called “children of the festival”.

the Secrets of abstract art

carnival Fun mihnova-Voitko
a Cheerful carnival mihnova-Boiteko

Inspired by the works of Western artists, the Moscow artists set off in search of new forms. For example, Ely Belyutin used in the mops, nails and other items. He expressed his ideas through the juxtaposition of people and entourage: two lovers in the forest, which was seen Auschwitz. The painting “Requiem” – Lenin’s funeral, depicted in the close to expressionism “action painting”. The artist is called “Requiem” his “personal Communist utopia”.

Mikhnov-Voitenko created a series of large-format paintings by applying the paint straight from the tube, without the use of the brush. Colored spots create in one case, the dance at the carnival in the other – landscape.

Severe style

Happy workers are building communism
Happy workers building communism

This term suggested Alexander Kamensky. Severe style characteristic of socialist realist representation of the themes of the working class and the heroism of hard work: women and men are shown at work on construction sites, in polar expeditions. The cycle of paintings devoted to the development of virgin lands. Heroes tired from work, but happy people, the builders of the bright Communist future.


the launch of the Soviet Sputnik-1 into space
the Launch of Sputnik-1 into space

The first flight of man into space and the splitting of the atom created a sense of endless possibilities of science. the world’s First nuclear power station, the first synchrotron – a powerful accelerator, nuclear icebreaker “Lenin” is far not the full list of achievements of the time. The spread of higher education, the development of scientific institutions, creation of closed science cities have given rise to heroes of the new time – young scientists. After the launch of the Soviet “Sputnik-1” space has captured the imagination and became one of the main themes in art, in the design of household objects and appliances. In painting appeared fantastic sketches of planets and unexplored space – artists created their own reality based on scientific facts and guesses.

the world's First NPP, Obninsk, Moscow region
the Layout of the first NPP in the world


Poetry in the theater “Sovremennik”

Evgeny Kuznetsov, the assistant to the artistic Director of the theatre "Contemporary"
Evgeny Kuznetsov, the assistant to the art Director of theatre “Contemporary”

“Together with the Tretyakov gallery, we made the program “Area Mayakovsky“. It consists of five evenings devoted to specific poets – Joseph Brodsky, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Robert Rozhdestvensky, Andrei Voznesensky, Bella Akhmadulina. Fails with “Area Mayakovsky” in the evening “We are young”, which will be devoted to the poetry of the turn of the 1950-1960, it will be attended by almost all young troupe “Contemporary”.

The era of the thaw – a special time when the public conscience changed, open new opportunities, they needed a new form. This allowed the young actors, graduates of school-Studio of the Moscow art theatre to join theatre and to create it “is not from above but from below”. There were six of us: Oleg Yefremov, Galina Volchek, Oleg Tabakov, Oleg Kvasha, Evgeny Evstigneev and Lilia Tolmacheva, of which only two are alive today – Volchek and tobacco.

Galina Volchek, Igor Kvasha and Oleg Tabakov. 60 years
Galina Volchek, Igor Kvasha and Oleg Tabakov. 60 years

By the time of the creation of “Contemporary” art scene and the Stanislavsky system, where the main concern is the interaction of the actor with the audience, was distorted. Efremov with his supporters took on the mission to revive the Stanislavsky system as the only correct one for the Russian theater. April 15, 1956, in the school-Studio of the Moscow art theatre was the first performance of “live Forever”, which was a real shock for the Moscow public. After the performance, the audience persuaded young troupe disperse. This day is considered the birthday of the theater “Contemporary”.

Festival “Thaw” will last until mid-summer. Museum of fine arts Pushkin will present her exhibition “to the future. The art of Europe 1945-1968“, Gorky Park and Muzeon will host screenings, discussions and themed music nights together with the theater “Contemporary”.

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