Creation of Kalevala Exposition: part 3

Submitted by KA9021 on
Kalevala illlustrations

Today we are ready to acquaint you with our “Kalevala” collection, the best items of which will be presented in the new section of the permanent exhibition.

The items of particular value are the drawings by Mikhail Tsybasov and Alisa Poret, who are the first Russian illustrators of the epic poem “Kalevala”. They were the members of the artists’ association of Pavel Filonov “Masters of Analytical Art”. The very first illustrated edition of “Kalevala” in our country (the publishing company “Academia”, 1933) has already become a bibliographic rarity.

The diaries of 1931-1934 by Pavel N. Filonov contain the chronicle of his students’ work on “Kalevala” illustrations and  include very interesting information.  Here are some of the diary notes.

November 30, 1931. The representatives of the Academia publishing company suggested P.Filonov to illustrate “Kalevala”: “I refused, but we agreed that the work will be done by the Masters of Analytical Art – my students under my supervision.”

January 30, 1932. “This time we presented them more than 20 drawings. Both comrades, representatives of the “Academia”, did not even hide their pleasure and joy from our work, for a long time they tried to find out all our technical feasibility and in the long run came to the conclusion that they could do their best to provide the highest quality of printing of the illustrations.”

October 3, 1932. “Glebova met comrade Maisky *. He came to the publishing company with his wife. His wife attacked some of the drawings especially hard, but in general both were delighted with them. The young face in the picture by Makarov, according to them, is politically dangerous, because it can be mistaken for “young Finland”, and the red head painted by Poret inspires the idea of ​​”red danger”. The heads of the “Academia” listened to the words of Maisky and his wife very with servility. As a result, we will have to re-draw Makarov’s work and change the color on Poret’s head.”

So, fighting for each flyleaf, color, stroke and his own understanding of the image, Filonov led his team to inevitable success, that he himself did not believe in.

January 4, 1934. “Today Misha [Tsybasov] and Terentyev came. They brought our Kalevala. It turned out that the book was released and is already being sold. Because I was expecting any provocation, I was surprised that I was not very happy about its publication. It’s a miracle that the book was published despite such hard persecution on our artists’ association”.

The opening of the exhibition is scheduled for early 2021.

A new section of the permanent exhibition is being created as a part of the KA9021 project “Museums in Focus: the development of Cultural Services for Chinese Tourists” (within Karelia CBC Programme 2014-2020, funded by the European Union, Finland and Russia).

* Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky (1884-1975) – a Soviet diplomat, historian and publicist, a representative of the USSR in Finland (1929 – 1932).

Photo: illustrations for Kalevala by A.Poret