Throughout the Romanov dynasty, Russia’s greatest artists and thinkers, painters and poets, composers and dancers, served two masters. Devotion to craft—or principle—could never wholly eclipse dependence on the tsars. Similarly, consumers of Russian culture could never respond without political consideration: Volkov recounts how, at the 1836 premiere of Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar, fashionable audiences watched Nicholas I in his private box to see how they ought to react. He wept, and they wept accordingly.
In this spellbinding story, we watch the great figures of Russian history clash. Alexei, father of Peter the Great, befriended the writer Avvakum only to banish him; the next tsar, Fedor, had Avvakum burned alive. Using her notorious charms, Catherine the Great masterfully wielded political control over her culture industry. For his part, Pushkin became the first favored artist to resist the tsar’s influence. His poem “To Liberty” is cherished as a revolutionary work of dissent. But even Pushkin’s genius went unspared: Alexander tired of the poet’s literary and amorous freethinking and banished him from St. Petersburg.
Romanov Riches is a work of epic scale that never sacrifices individual characters for broader themes. Gogol, Dostoevsky, and Tolstoy are presented in a devilishly intricate dance with their royal patrons. A truly essential work for anyone who wants to understand Russia’s passionate devotion to its most important artists, it is the prequel to Volkov’s acclaimed work The Magical Chorus: A History of Russian Culture from Tolstoy to Solzhenitsyn.
From the Hardcover edition.
Intelligent and determined, Catherine modeled herself off of her grandfather in-law, Peter the Great, and sought to further modernize and westernize Russia. She believed that the best way to do this was through a ravenous acquisition of art, which Catherine often used as a form of diplomacy with other powers throughout Europe. She was a self-proclaimed "glutton for art" and she would be responsible for the creation of the Hermitage, one of the largest museums in the world, second only to the Louvre. Catherine also spearheaded the further expansion of St. Petersburg, and the magnificent architectural wonder the city became is largely her doing. There are few women in history more fascinating than Catherine the Great, and for the first time, Susan Jaques brings her to life through the prism of art.
Applying anthropological models borrowed from Claude Lévi-Strauss, Walworth shows that his mythmaker typologies—the “engineer” and “bricoleur”—illustrate, respectively, the canonical Constructivists and artists on the movement’s margins who deployed a wide range of clever make-do tactics. Walworth explores the relationships of Nadezhda Lamanova, Esfir Shub, and others with Constructivists such as Aleksei Gan, Varvara Stepanova, and Aleksandr Rodchenko. Together, the work of these artists reflected the chaotic and often contradictory zeitgeist of the decade from 1918 to 1929, and redefined the concept of mass production. Reappropriated fragments of a former enemy era provided a wide range of play and possibility for these artists, and the resulting propaganda porcelain, film, fashion, and architecture tell a broader story of the unique political and economic pressures felt by their makers.
An engaging multidisciplinary study of objects and their makers during the Soviet Union’s early years, this volume highlights a group of artists who hover like free radicals at the border of existing art-historical discussions of Constructivism and deepens our knowledge of Soviet art and material culture.
This humorous peek at life in a college town smack-dab in the middle of rural Pennsylvania chronicles a changing community over the course of two eventful decades. A professor of journalism, former columnist for the Centre Daily Times, and contributor to StateCollege.com, Frank has a unique perspective on living in the shadow of a university—especially on the tribe of nomadic young adults known as the “Woo people,” so named for their signature mode of celebratory communication. He invites readers into the routines of his hectic household as they embrace their new home, skewers the culture of intercollegiate sports, relates the challenges and peculiarities of teaching at one of the nation’s largest universities, and, most important, teaches us to be amused at college-kid antics and to appreciate their academic and real-world accomplishments, even as we anxiously tick off the days until semester’s end.
From tales of missing porch furniture and red plastic cups in the bushes to a “Nude Year’s Eve” run by an octet of forty-somethings to the sweet relief of summer, Frank’s hilarious, insightful essays are indispensable for anyone who wants to survive, appreciate, and enjoy college-town life.
Blessed with a beautiful voice, Praskovia began her training in Nicholas’s operatic company as a young girl. Like all the members of Nicholas’s troupe, Praskovia was one of his own serfs. But unlike the others, she utterly captured her master’s heart. The book reconstructs Praskovia’s stage career as "The Pearl” and the heartbreaking details of her romance with Nicholas--years of torment before their secret marriage, the outrage of the aristocracy when news of the marriage emerged, Praskovia’s death only days after delivering a son, and the unyielding despair that followed Nicholas to the end of his life. Written with grace and style, The Pearl sheds light on the world of the Russian aristocracy, music history, and Russian attitudes toward serfdom. But above all, the book tells a haunting story of love against all odds.