When we visited universally famous museums that exhibited Russian art, we always bought something in museum shops. Rodchenko-inspired scarf (from Tate Modern “Rodchenko&Popova” exhibition), Kandinsky tie (from Guggenheim museum “RUSSIA!” exhibition) and many other “Russian” pieces made not in Russia. When we went to old "classic" Russian museums we could buy colorful catalogues, inspiring informative books and that’s about it! There are always kiosks with cheesy and expensive pseudo-museum souvenirs in touristy places, but we usually only want a gizmo, a small but meaningful and classy reminder of our feelings and thoughts of an exhibition. Up until 2015, Russian museums didn’t offer anything like it, but this past year the ice broke.
The trailblazer was the grand old Moscow’s State Tretyakov Gallery. Advisor to the director general Tatyana Mrdulyash reached out to a modern, hype bookstore Respublika to create uncommon products. There is no coincidence it happened in 2015 – last year was the 100th anniversary of the iconic Kazemir Malevich’s “Black square” (that appeared to be even more mysterious than previously thought, when the Tretyakov Gallery experts discovered earlier layers of paint and three barely visible words under the monochrome surface, but that’s a whole different story).
Souvenir production contains notebooks, phone-cases and diaries with artworks and quotes from the greatest Russian visionaries of the movement that flourished immediately before and after the 1917 Revolution. Avant-garde includes separate but inextricably related suprematism, constructivism, futurism, neo-primitivism and more. The leading artists of the period were Kazimir Malevich, Natalia Goncharova, Wassily Kandinskiy, Lyubov Popova, Ivan Klyun, Aristarkh Lentulov. They reached across the isle, worked on various platforms, experimented and achieved breakthroughs in painting, theater, film, photography, literature and architecture. The movement was marked by great concerns about sociopolitical issues and today colorful notebooks inspire to write a manifesto, a political platform or arrange a congress in the spirit of Russian avant-gardists.
One good thing lead to another: in the framework of the State Tretyakov – Respublika collaboration, the museum held lectures, public-talks, contests, discussions on avant-garde and its key figures. The groundbreaking avant-garde artists motivated the museum to embark on projects with various institutions and now we can buy pins, bags, porcelain and there are talks of State Tretyakov Gallery avant-garde inspired furniture. Such a seemingly small thing as museum shop brought on new range of activity and by the end of last year the museum opened its online-store. There you can buy certain things, but for the whole selection it is better to visit the museum.
We wish there could be outerwear it would really look fantastic on a red carpet event even today, when nothing seems to be shocking anymore. Costumes from the suprematism-inspired fashion show “Night in the square” should’ve been sold in the museum shop! The show was held in the Tretyakov Gallery building on Krymskiy val, where Malevich, Kandinsky, Goncharova, and other household avant-garde names are housed. The museum often hosts remarkable special events such as this one!
Once in the avant-garde – always in the avant-garde (of museum sales this time). Museeum will definitely come back to the State Tretyakov Gallery not only to see the amazing collection, but also to TOUCH new products as we hope the State Tretyakov will broaden the range of items and maybe create… jewelry?