A Country in Porcelain: Figurines from the Soviet Era

Featuring  over eighty rare porcelain pieces, this exhibition presents three-dimensional artworks produced by Soviet porcelain  factories in Leningrad, Dulevo, Verbilki, and other regional centers.. Deftly painted figurines of Soviet Red Army soldiers, revolutionary sailors, collective farmers, children, and more recreate a diminutive replica of a country that installed an all-encompassing socialist project in 1917 and disappeared from global maps almost three decades ago.  Uncovering a fascinating story of Soviet porcelain production and artists who shaped its aesthetics, the collection on display dates from the 1920s through the  1980s.

Soviet porcelain is a unique manifestation of porcelain art. Porcelain of the Soviet era is distinguished by the imagery and ideas it represented rather than by its technologies or quality. New Soviet trends in porcelain started with Lenin who attached a great importance to and envisioned a role for ideological symbolism in art. To implant a new ideology into the minds of Soviet people, the new regime needed new cultural codes and symbols. This idea was encapsulated in Lenin’s plan for “monumental propaganda.”  A decree was passed in the early Soviet period that called for the removal of monuments honoring tsars and their servants and creating monuments to the Russian Socialist revolution. Porcelain production was an important part of the plan. In 1918, the former Imperial Porcelain Factory in Petrograd was nationalized and began to produce propaganda plates and sculptural representations of common Soviet people and notable revolutionaries.

The exhibition highlights the lesser-known and new facet of the Museum’s permanent collection drawing from Susan Johnson’s generous donation of Soviet porcelain figurines. We express our deepest thanks for her unique gift to TMORA.  Also included are several pieces from the collections of Blaine Bolden and Kim Balaschak, and the museum acknowledges their participation with gratitude.

On view in the Lower Gallery – September 29, 2018–January 27, 2019


Featured image:

Yakut Boy with Husky

Porcelain, overglaze painting

Sculptor S. B. Velikhova; painted by E. N. Lupanova

Lomonosov Porcelain Factory, Leningrad (1954 model)

Gift of Susan Johnson, 2018