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Archive | September, 2013

Warming up Soviet Art American-Style

Aeroflot  flying U.S.S.R.

Flying Aeroflot never looked so tasty!

If the Soviet Union allowed American-style Art the Cold War might have warmed considerably!

By David Owens

September 30, 2013

nyet poster 1954

Nyet to Vodka! A proper Soviet Union morality  poster from 1954.

Had the art of the pin-up that bolstered American soldier morale in the 1940s been allowed in the Soviet Union, those patriotic posters might have been quite a bit more alluring and humorous.

Soviet posters were government approved messages letting the public know how good Soviet citizens should behave. Goals did not include portraying women as sexy girls to inspire the attention of male libido. Soviet women in art were strong workers and mothers, equally covered up as their male counter parts and bearing equal responsibility to provide high moral standards for the good of Soviet society.  But what if there was no government censorship?

Valery Barykin work success

Going to new work victories!

At the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art Russian artist Valery Barykin has endeavored to combine the morality boosting Soviet poster with the allure of the American Pin-up.  The result is more titillating glimpse of Soviet life that probably would have landed him in a Siberian prison had he done so in the Soviet era. Not that they are so offensive — at least no more so than American pin-up posters of the 1940s and beyond.

Officially, there was no sex in the Soviet Union.  At least that is how the West liked to characterize the Soviet attitude. In 1986 a Russian woman in a televised interview stated, “There is no sex (on Russian Television)”  which caught on quickly as a catch-phrase proving the lack of freedom in the Soviet Union.  And indeed, combined with the Soviet Posters of women in work clothes with strong legs like tree trunks and arms like fence posts, it seems sexual equality in the Soviet Union meant everyone working for the betterment of society working side by side with dull clothes and no skin or affection towards the opposite sex — holding a high moral conservatism above the corrupt West.

All Pay for the Wife!

All Pay for the Wife! Valery Barykin print on exhibition.

Of course, there was just as much sexual tension in Soviet Union as in other countries, it was just not talked about and expressed only in very subtle ways.  There are stories of women putting a colorful ribbon in their hair for a party or perhaps raising a skirt a bit to show calf for a private gathering. A high divorce rate in the Soviet union exposed a culture where romantic love was important in marriage and there was little financial penalty for families that broke apart.  But publicly, Soviet Russia was very proper.

Enter Barykin to imagine another scenario. A Soviet society where women could dare to seek attention and men could acknowledge their interest. With a sense of humor!

The Soviet Pin-Up

Exhibition of limited edition Valeriy Barykin prints at the Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg (Vasilievsky island, the 29th line, 2). open every day but Tuesday  from 10am to 10pm.   Limited Edition prints on sale between $300 – 800 US dollars.


Valery Barykin Don't distract the driver!

Don’t distract the driver!


Government plumbers should strive to do their best!

Government plumbers should strive to do their best!

Valery Barykin discusses his opening –  Выставка Валерия Барыкина “Советский pin-up”

See more Valery Barykin prints at Erarta Museum and Galleries of Contemporary Art


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