Curating national renewal : the significance of arts and crafts in the construction of Soviet identity at the 1925 Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris

Vol.3,No.3(2023)

Abstract
At the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes in Paris in 1925, the newly recognised Soviet Union was given a platform to present its ideology through art. It constructed an official narrative of national renewal through a sophisticated exhibition concept that complemented contemporary art (particularly constructivism) with arts and crafts. This article sheds light on why the Soviet officials chose this specific approach and how their strategy was rooted in the earlier exhibition experience of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. Focusing on the two sections of arts and crafts presented in Paris – the Kustar goods of Soviet Russia and folk art from other Soviet Republics – the article examines their significance for the carefully constructed Soviet identity of the time. Furthermore, it analyses the contributions of individual organisers to these sections in light of their statements and writings, their professional positions and their prior experience. By illuminating the human factor behind the official narrative, the article exposes a parallel level of interpretation in order to further a more nuanced understanding of the Soviet contribution.

Keywords:
Arts and Crafts; Exposition des Arts Décoratifs; Kustar art; Paris; World's Fair; Soviet identity
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