Yulia Karpova
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Objects of neodecorativism

The chapter identifies an artistic tendency that emerged in the 1960s that I call, following art critic Iurii Gerchuk, ‘neodecorativism’ — a set of artistic strategies to redefine the meaning of decoration and reconceptualise applied art as decorative. Comparing works of applied art from the early and the late 1960s, the chapter reveals the techniques that the artists used to criticise the state-sponsored campaign to improve consumer culture. Far from being a tool of the Party and the government, Soviet decorative art in the late 1960s became a forum for commentary on the fundamental challenges of Soviet modernity and explored the language of postmodernism. It raised such questions as the place of individuality in the world of uniform mass production and consumption, the fate of traditional crafts in the industrial age, the role of diverse folk motifs in Soviet cultural internationalism and the meaning of sincerity and spirituality in a socialist society guided by Party dogmas. Working within the framework of Soviet institutions and policy guidelines, decorative artists and critics of the 1960s advocated the personal freedom of artists and of ordinary people without, however, explicitly resorting to the language of human rights and civil society.

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Comradely objects

Design and material culture in Soviet Russia, 1960s–80s


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