A Soviet Design for Life


Detail from ‘Skol’ko millionov golodnykh? Desiat’!’ (‘How many millions are starving? Ten!’) by Vladimir Maiakovskii, in Russkii revoliutsionnyi plakat (The Russian Revolutionary poster). CCA.54.27

Cambridge University Library’s Catherine Cooke collection is made up of thousands of books, journals, posters, postcards and ephemera relating to 20th-century Russian architecture and design. Dr Catherine Cooke (1942-2004) amassed extraordinary and rare material in an academic life dedicated to Soviet design. Her particular interests were in the Russian avant-garde, Constructivism, and urban design, as reflected by her books and by the exhibitions she herself organised.

‘A Soviet Design for Life’ uses a wide range of items from the collection to look at the way in which what we would consider to be classic Soviet design was present in life from the everyday to the fantastic. It presents material from the full Soviet century, from the early revolutionary years to 1991, in order to reveal the complexity and diversity of Soviet design, as well as its remarkable consistency.

To find out more about the Catherine Cooke collection, please visit the Library Slavonic collections web page.

The University Library is grateful to Dr Emma Widdis and Dr Rosalind Polly Blakesley of the Departments of Slavonic Studies and History of Art for their help and advice during the planning of this exhibition.

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