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'Primrose: Early Colour Photography in Russia' on view at the Photographers' Gallery
Dmitry Baltermants, Rain. 1960s. Colour print. Collection of Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow/ Moscow House of Photography Museum© Dmitry Baltermants Archive© Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow/ Moscow House of Photography Museum.

By: Olga Sviblova

LONDON.- Primrose showcases the appearance and development of colour in Russian photography from the 1860s to the 1970s. It presents both the history of Russian photography and the history of Russia in photography, depicting life over the course of a century, as the country endured unprecedented upheaval.

The exhibition is arranged in chronological order and shows the development of photographic colour technology and the social transformations which altered the role of photography in Russian society.

Early experiments range from hand-tinting of images to early 20th century tri-plate isochromatic photographs and autochromes.

After the 1917 Revolution photomontage quickly developed in the Russia of the 1920s and 1930s, facilitating the creation of visual utopias. Bolshevik propaganda utilised this ‘visual weapon’ and the colour red became dominant.

From the mid-1940s to the early 1960s costly colour film was used only by a small number of official publications to produce the Socialist realism that served the Stalinist ideological machine.

From the early 1960s the Khrushchev Thaw stimulated the growth of humanistic photography in the USSR.

In the 1970s unofficial culture developed rapidly and inexpensive colour transparency film was made available to the general public. Underground photographers used it to create slideshows accessible to a small circle of like-minded people for home viewing.

The exhibition includes work by Pyotr Pavlov, Pyotr Vedenisov, Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova, Ivan Shagin, Georgy Petrusov, Dmitry Baltermants, Boris Mikhailov and other classics of Russian photography.

Curated by Olga Sviblova, Director of Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow / Moscow House of Photography Museum. The exhibition is part of the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014.






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