Ogoniok. Life as a holiday

Yakov Ryumkin.
Happy New Year, Comrades! 
1954.
Ogoniok archive Mikhail Savin.
Polisher at the Lyudinovo Diesel Locomotive Plant and delegate to the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Gennady Petrukhin with his son Alexander. Kaluga region.
1981.
Ogoniok archive Yakov Ryumkin.
A bumper wheat harvest in the Novo-Alexandrovsk district of Stavropol region. Collective farm worker Anastasia Nikolaevna "hugs" the grain.
1951.
Ogoniok archive Yakov Ryumkin.
Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin at home with his wife, Valentina.
1962.
Ogoniok archive Dmitry Baltermants.
Young Leninists Alyosha Pilyaev and Igor Usakov. Moscow.
1961.
Ogoniok archive Mikhail Savin.
Review by young actors of the Yanka Kupala Belorussian Drama Theatre. Minsk.
1953.
Ogoniok archive Nikolai Drachinsky.
The high-altitude skating rink in Alma-Ata. Spectators.
1955.
Ogoniok archive

Yakov Ryumkin. Happy New Year, Comrades! 1954. Ogoniok archive

Mikhail Savin. Polisher at the Lyudinovo Diesel Locomotive Plant and delegate to the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union Gennady Petrukhin with his son Alexander. Kaluga region. 1981. Ogoniok archive

Yakov Ryumkin. A bumper wheat harvest in the Novo-Alexandrovsk district of Stavropol region. Collective farm worker Anastasia Nikolaevna "hugs" the grain. 1951. Ogoniok archive

Yakov Ryumkin. Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin at home with his wife, Valentina. 1962. Ogoniok archive

Dmitry Baltermants. Young Leninists Alyosha Pilyaev and Igor Usakov. Moscow. 1961. Ogoniok archive

Mikhail Savin. Review by young actors of the Yanka Kupala Belorussian Drama Theatre. Minsk. 1953. Ogoniok archive

Nikolai Drachinsky. The high-altitude skating rink in Alma-Ata. Spectators. 1955. Ogoniok archive

Moscow, 18.XII.2014—15.II.2015

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Idea: Olga Sviblova, Viktor Loshak
Curators: Anna Zaytseva, Olga Tsipenyuk

Marking 115 years of the magazine

Idea: Olga Sviblova, Viktor Loshak
Curators: Anna Zaytseva, Olga Tsipenyuk

Marking 115 years of the magazine

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Opening day photos

For mass-media

The exhibition «Life as a holiday» consists of archive photographs from Ogoniok magazine dating from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Ogoniok was an illustrated magazine from its foundation in 1899. It was the television of the pre-television age, around which the whole family gathered. After a break in publication during the years of the revolution, Ogoniok relaunched in 1923 and by 1925 had a print run of 500,000.

At this time there was a real boom in photography. It became a powerful visual weapon for the young Soviet state. The best Soviet photographers worked with Ogoniok, including Arkady Shaikhet, Eleazar Langman, Emmanuil Evzerikhin, Vsevolod Tarasevich, Isaak Tunkel, Mikhail Savin, Eduard Ettinger, Galina Sanko, Dmitry Debabov, Semyon Fridlyand, Lev Borodulin, Lev Sherstennikov and, of course, Dmitry Baltermants. He began to work at Ogoniok in 1946 and then, from 1965 to 1990, was head of the magazine’s photography department.

The work of this glittering photographic galaxy is the basis of the exhibition «Life as a holiday», which marks 115 years since the magazine’s foundation.

The tradition of photography in Ogoniok was largely formed by the history and ideology of the country. Photography is the mirror of the age, but the amalgam of that mirror changes with the times and is defined by them. From the 1930s photography, like all other art forms, was obliged to observe the tenets of socialist realism. Photography was not to depict life «as it is». It was much more important to show «how things should be». In photography textbooks of that time attention was focused on the rules of staging, on directing seemingly objective reporting. Each posed photograph became a political expression, simultaneously both a product and a tool of ideological work. Using their great talent photographers constructed an image of the happiest person in the happiest country on earth. The triumphs of collective labour in the fields, in the factories and on building sites, pictures of the new daily life, scenes of carefree childhood and well-deserved leisure — Ogoniok’s photographs breathe a holiday atmosphere or its anticipation. Together they produce a mythological pattern of collective happiness. Ogoniok’s visual canon took its definitive form in the mid-1950s, at the peak of the publication’s fame as an illustrated magazine. In the «thaw» of the 1960s, individualised happiness started to appear through the shroud of the collective holiday. Facial expressions, poses, subjects and tone changed. With the arrival of the stagnation years of the 1970s holiday ceased to be the main theme of Soviet photography. For this reason photographs from these two decades do not dominate the exhibition but demonstrate the aesthetics and the ideological direction of the previous epoch.

The works of Soviet photographers featured in the exhibition both charm and, with the passing of the years, force one to think about our past, present and future. Today Ogoniok is part of the new media space. Reality looks out of its pages at us, and there is a place for more than holiday. One thing remains unchanged — Ogoniok’s place in the life of this huge country and in the history of Russian photojournalism.

The first edition of Ogoniok was issued on 9 (21) December 1899 as an illustrated literary and artistic supplement to the St Petersburg newspaper «Birzhevye vedomosti». In 1902 Ogoniok became a separate magazine.

Printing ceased during the years of the revolution. In 1923 a number of Moscow journalists, writers and publishers united around Mikhail Koltsov, one of the most notable journalists of the revolutionary epoch, to resurrect Ogoniok and «create a Soviet magazine with the old name». By 1925 the print run was half a million.

For many years Ogoniok was the favourite magazine of whole generations. Its articles were discussed and retold, issues were carefully preserved. The country changed, as did circumstances and people, and so too did Ogoniok, but it remained familiar face for a huge circle of readers.

The Ogoniok style was formed definitively in the 1950s. Each edition had a portrait on the cover, poetry or a detective story and a crossword but the main thing were the photographs. The centre fold, a trademark Ogoniok insert, familiarised its readers with masterpieces of world culture and with Soviet painting, forming the aesthetic taste of millions of people.

The legendary «Biblioteka» literary supplement was a vital source of reading material. Viktor Shklovsky’s reporting, Ilf and Petrov’s stories, Evgeny Evtushenko’s poems and Vladimir Soloukhin’s essays were an integral part of the magazine’s image. The supplement is still published today.

In the period of perestroika Ogoniok’s reporting became a school of democracy. The magazine was famous world-wide. Articles like Yuri Karyakin’s «The Zhdanov liquid», the open letter by prosecutors Gdlyan and Ivanov and Artem Borovik’s reporting on the American army were symbols of the new epoch.

The magazine’s traditions were handed down by a galaxy of leading journalists who were its editors in chief: Mikhail Koltsov, Evgeny Petrov, Aleksei Surkov, Anatoly Safronov, Vitaly Korotich, Lev Gushchin, Vladimir Chernov, Viktor Loshak and Sergei Agafonov.

Since 2009 Ogoniok has been published by Kommersant Publishing House in the familiar large format with numerous photographs. The new Ogoniok for a new country remains a favourite magazine, preserving the traditions of professionalism and high-quality journalism which have been part of Ogoniok since the beginning.

Kommersant. Publishing house Ogoniok. 115 years

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