If you think Soviet architecture was strange — with its retrofuture angles and monolithic forms — you should see what came after the USSR’s collapse. German photographer Frank Herfort has spent years traveling all over Russia and the former Soviet territories, from metropolises to remote rural zones, to capture the bizarre architecture of the post-Soviet era.
The 1920s in Russia weren’t exactly what people had hoped they would be. After the 1917 Russian Revolution brought down the old regime and the Soviets took over, there was a swelling sense of hope in a potential egalitarian Communist future. Yet only a few years later, censorship was curtailing art and free expression. Fortunately, no one was paying much attention to the children’s books.
The specter of communism currently haunts the New Museum in its summer “bloc-buster” exhibition “Ostalgia.” It’s an ambitious project that consumes most of the galleries with a swirling conglomeration of disparate mediums, artists, scales and concepts that reflect the miasmic atmosphere of post-Soviet territories.
The Tony Shafrazi Gallery is currently showing a rare collection of 95 rare Soviet Constructivist film posters, circa 1920-33, and a model of Vladimir Tatlin’s influential “Monument for the Third International” (1920/1967). These gems of early 20th C. graphic design were cutting edge for their time and they still look fantastic today. The visual imagination of the designers synched up quite well with the heady films during an era when the Soviet Union was still a major center of cinematic production and innovation.