"Did you ever really live in a..."
Women of the Silver Age
Graphics, photographs, memorials, books, documents, and autographs from the collection Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House, St. Petersburg
The title of the exhibition was a line from the first part of Akhmatova's Poem Without a Hero, called "1913. The St. Petersburg Story. The heroines of the project are the same age as Akhmatova, whose youth fell at the turn of the century, a generous, spicy and unusually short time, which we now call the Silver Age of Russian culture.
The kaleidoscope of beautiful faces, names known and already forgotten, represents that very special female type that the era has shaped. And it is not just about female beauty and the attractiveness of youth. Such a number of women actresses, poets and artists in Russia, it seems, has never been. Just-found freedom and a new awareness of their place in a newly all-male world has created a strong surge of creative energy. And among the many talents of these women, perhaps the most attractive was the talent of life-making, because the lives of most of the heroines of this exhibition were also a kind of work of art. Each of them created their own special image, which today we have tried to reconstruct, based on old portraits and photographs, reading poetic lines by Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Nikolai Gumilev and Mikhail Kuzmin inspired by them.
We saw before us the "friend of the poets", the "Confused Psyche" - Olga Glebova-Sudeikina, and Salome Andronikova - the one "who is always more elegant, all rosy and higher", and the "dazzling beauty" Olga Vaksel, and Gumilev's faithful pupil "little poetess with a huge bow" Irina Odoevtseva, and "reckless" Pallada, and "impulsive and temperamental" Olga Cheremshanova. In one passage of prose about the poem, Akhmatova wrote "that everyone was at this masquerade. No one sent a refusal."
Some masks were unveiled by Akhmatova in the prose and in the libretto to the poem, some characters remained without name and face. To discern their faces in mirrors
of this text Akhmatova left to her future readers: "I notice that the poem is much better understood by young people than by my contemporaries.
The exhibition includes over two hundred items from the collection of the Anna Akhmatova Museum at the Fountain House: graphic portraits, photographs, autographs of the poets of the Silver Age, and views of St. Petersburg. These unique materials allow us to try and hear "the sound of footsteps" of that era that irrevocably disappeared. This is the epoch, whose people Akhmatova said: "No generation had such a fate... And maybe there was no such generation...".
The exhibition will run at the Grodekovo Museum until June 18, 2023.
Anna Akhmatova State Literary Memorial Museum in the Fountain House
Director: Boris Arkharov.
Curators of the exhibition: Svetlana Grushevskaya, curator of the collection of visual materials, and Irina Ivanova, chief curator.
Working group: Elena Arefieva, Vlada Lvova, Natalia Pakshina, Marina Prokofieva, Zhanna Televitskaya.