The Folk Graphic Art Museum

The museum is located at a historical spot of Moscow where a unique sort of art, which was both in paint and print, once appeared. In the 17th century the area got the name Meshchanskaya village; but they were not only print-workers, who lived here in Sretenka. In the early 17th century Sretenskaya village was inhabited by members of thirty-two crafts. Memory of craftspeople-residents of the village survived in the names of Sretenka lanes, i.e. Pechatnikov (Russian for “print-worker’s”), Kolokolnikov, Pushkarev, Myasnoy, Prosvirin, as well as in churches names, i.e. the Church of Dormition of the Mother of God in Pechatniki, and the Holy Trinity Church in Listi. The name of “Listi” derives from popular print pictures on wooden sheets (Russian: “listi”), which were exposed for sale at church fence by print-workers.

Lubok, or Russian popular woodcut picture, as an art form, which combined painting, printing, and graphics, appeared in the middle of the 16th century along with a book “The Apostle” by printing pioneer Ivan Fedorov (year 1564). Lubok originated as an ABC image book or a picture story and then became traditional form of popular prints. The story described in the pictures with describing notes beneath is peculiar for both western and eastern countries. But they were Slavic countries, where such picture story gained popular affection, developed and settled as a traditional art form in Russia, and later particularly in this form it became popular abroad.

In 1627 lubok, categorized as religious, made its debut in Kiev. In 1678 Belarusian craftsman Vasiliy Koren settled in Meshchanskaya village in Moscow, where he printed 36 woodcut sheets depicting a story about creation of the world; the woodblock got the name “The Bible for the Poor” (1692-1696). “The Poor” were those who could not read or write. The topics depicted by Lubok were extending, becoming not only religious but secular as well. Lubok craftspeople addressed Russian heroic epos, romances, history, and everyday life. In plain, vivid and witty language lubok depicted scenes from both urban and rural lives, festivals, demonstrated examples of folk art, proverbs, and curiosities. Having been modern media prototype, a woodcut refered to politics while resorting to allegorizing situations satirically. Thus, some crowned heads were lampooned as well; Peter the Great, who set up western customs in Russia, was among them (“The Mice Are Burying the Cat”). Lubok is a uniting form of Slavic popular art, which are close due to common history, culture, ceremonies, folk art, customs, and linguistic affinity.

The Museum exhibits Russian folk woodcut pictures. Visitors learn the history of lubok development and its various categories, which are as follows: spiritual, history, music, jokes and satires, décor, and preaching.

Among holdings of the Museum there is not only lubok, but different graphic prints as well. The Museum has a modern lubok collection on anti-alcohol topic. Back in 1989, an artistic team “Folk Graphics Workshop” created an exhibition, called “All Together Against Drinking”, which was the answer to the CPSU Central Committee resolution. Some pieces of art are kept in the Museum storage and were exhibited; they are collection of works, devoted to Russian Tsar Nicolay II and his family, the Romanov Dynasty. A calendar, devoted to the Rurik Dynasty genealogy, was published by the Museum on the base of lubok rarity “Grand Russian Princes and Tsars” (1870).

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