Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia
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Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia is an upcoming retrospective of colour experiments and developments in Russian photography over the course of a century. Primrose will feature over 140 works, many never before seen in the UK, spanning the 1860s through to the 1980s. These will be arranged in five chronological sections, each looking at different periods and the ir prevailing photographic aesthetics. The exhibition will include works by Dmitri Baltermants, Sergei Mikhailovich, Prokudin-Gorsky, Alexander Rodchenko, Ivan Shagin, and Boris Mikhailov among others. Primrose will open on 1st August in The Photographers' Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW. Admission is free.
The Photographers' Gallery Press Release
PRIMROSE: EARLY COLOUR PHOTOGRAPHY IN RUSSIA
1 AUGUST - 19 OCTOBER 2014
18 June 2014
The Photographers’ Gallery presents Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia, a retrospective of colour experiments and developments in Russian photography over the course of a century. In tracing these advancements the exhibition also moves through the social history of Russia itself.
Primrose will feature over 140 works, many never before seen in the UK, spanning the 1860s through to the 1980s. These will be arranged in five chronological sections, each looking at different periods and the ir prevailing photographic aesthetics. The exhibition will include works by Dmitri Baltermants, Sergei Mikhailovich, Prokudin-Gorsky, Alexander Rodchenko, Ivan Shagin, and Boris Mikhailov among others.
‘Primrose’ in Russian literally translates as ‘first colour’ and is one of the earliest and most colourful flowers to bloom in spring; its use in the title refers to the exhibition’s focus on the progressive use of colour in early Soviet photography. The exhibition opens with photographs from the 1860 s when tinting of prints with watercolour and oil paints was undertaken by hand. Initially used for portraits, this technique was later extended to architectural, land scape and industrial subject matter.
In the early 20th century under the patronage of Tsar Nicholas II the photographic documentation of life in Russia became a priority of the Empire. Using a tricolor plate system he adapted from Prof. Adolf Miethe, Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky was trusted with the task of travelling the country to capture its vastness and diversity. His output from those years is presented in the second section of the exhibition alongside the autochromes of nobleman Pyotr Vedenisov, whose autobiographical focus provided valuable insights into the lifestyle of the Russian elite.
The third section will examine the period following WWI when the Soviet government, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin, supported photography as an important propaganda tool. Photomontage became central to their agenda, allowing for the communication of new Soviet myths to a largely illiterate population. Also included are the later works of Alexander Rodchenko, featuring pictures of sporting and art events taken in a pictorial style. These provided Rodchenko with a form of escapism and a way to express his disillusionment with the notion of a Soviet utopia.
The production of Soviet-made colour film did not appear until 1946 and was accessible to only a handful of official photographers. The Khrushchev Thaw in the mid-1950s saw much of Stalin’s repression reversed, allowing photography to move closer to everyday reality as seen in Dmitri Baltermants’ pictures in section four. At the same time hand-tinted portraits began appearing on the market again. These were taken anonymously as private photo studios were still forbidden.
Referencing these anonymous studio portraits is Boris Mikhailov’s celebrated series Luriki (1971 - 1985). Comprising the fifth section, the series looks to expose Soviet ideology through humour and stereotypical imagery. The use of hand-colouring techniques represents Russia’s stalled progress as well as nostalgic sentimentality for old craft. This section also presents Mikhailov’s slideshow Suzi et Cetera (1960s - 1970s). The piece with its focus on the individual is meant as a political act, challenging the dominant 'we' of the Soviet nation. It was impossible to show the work publicly; such exhibitions took place in underground clubs, artist studios and apartments synonymous with the Soviet nonconformist art of the time.
Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia is part of Russia Visualised, a year-long presentation of visual arts and culture programming across London marking the UK Russia Year of Culture in 2014. The exhibition is curated by Olga Sviblova, Director, Moscow House of Photography Museum / Multimedia Art Museum. The exhibition is supported by The Science Museum.
is a year-long presentation of visual arts and culture programming across London to celebrate the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014. Leading galleries and museums contributing a rich variety of exhibitions and even ts to the Russia Visualised programme include Calvert 22 Gallery, Tate Modern, The Photographers’ Gallery, the Science Museum, and the V&A. From Russian space exploration to avant-garde Russian theatre, Russia Visualised will highlight Russia’s visual arts heritage and its place in 21st century culture.
The Photographers’ Gallery
The Photographers’ Gallery opened in 1971 in Great Newport Street, London, as the UK’s first independent gallery devoted to photography. It was the first public gallery in the UK to exhibit many key names in international photography, including Juergen Teller, Robert Capa, Sebastião Salgado and Andreas Gursky. The Gallery has also been instrumental in establishing contemporary British photographers, including Martin Parr and Corinne Day. In 2009, the Gallery moved to 16 - 18 Ramillies Street in Soho, the first stage in its plan to create a 21st century home for photography. Following an eighteen month long redevelopment project, it reopened to the public in 2012. The success of The Photographers’ Gallery over the past four decades has helped to establish photography as a recognised art form, introducing new audiences to photography and championing its place at the heart of visual culture.
Moscow House of Photography / Multimedia Art Museum Established in 1996 as Moscow House of Photography the museum was reformed in 2003 as the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow [MAMM]. The reconstructed museum incorporates minimalist architecture with state of the art media installations. MAMM’s mission is to investigate new forms of visual expression while presenting innovative trends in Russian and international photography and contemporary art. In addition to a curated programme of exhibitions the museum also offers a comprehensive schedule of talks and education eve nts including master classes, workshops, guided tours, film previews and artists and curator s’ lectures. MAMM is also the home of Photobiennale Fashion and Style in Photography and Sliver Camera.
Opening times: Monday - Saturday, 10:00 - 18:00, Th
ursdays, 10:00 - 20:00,
Sunday 11:30 - 18:00
Address: 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW
Nearest London Underground Station: Oxford Circus
T: + 44 (0)20 7087 9300
Photo: Dmitri Baltermants, Stalin’s funeral, Moscow, 1953, Collection of the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow/ Moscow House of Photography Museum, © Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow/ Moscow House of Photography