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17 November 2018

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Moscow & St. Petersburg: 1900-1920

A wonderfully illustrated book on the Silver Age.

This lushly illustrated volume captures the artistic explosion that was Russia’s Silver Age. From Blok and Akhmatova, to Stravinsky, Bakst, Repin, Pasternak, Vrubel and Meyerhold, the first two decades of the 20th century were a time of exciting and colorful artistic experimentation in Russia. As Bowlt (a member of this magazine’s Advisory Board) writes in the introduction: “there was something unique and unrepeatable about the Russian Silver Age. It acknowledged the new art and science of the West, but tailored them to local exigencies so as to produce an effervescent cocktail...”

With thematic chapters exploring everything from ballet to Symbolism (and of course the glowering backdrop of revolution and imperial decline) and a thoroughly enthralling collection of photography and artwork (650 illustrations in all), Bowlt has assembled an uncommonly beautiful and useful reference on an era which too often is overshadowed by the hurricane of repression that inundated it.

We will never see anything again like the Silver Age, not in Russia, nor anywhere else. But, thanks to this new work, we can walk through it again, albeit at our almost incomprehensible historical remove.

— Paul E. Richardson

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Reviewed in Russian Life: Nov/Dec 2008