Russia Arts and Music
The country is the direct heir of a large part of the former Soviet Union, and as such it has brought with it the artistic and cultural heritage that was formed throughout the twentieth century: many of the leading names in contemporary Russian culture are in fact those of writers, poets, filmmakers or artists who already worked in the last years of the Soviet giant’s life, albeit at times with marginal positions given by their extreme criticality towards the government system. The didactic and pedagogical effort that had characterized the Soviet past had, if nothing else, the merit of instilling at all levels of Russian society a taste for cultural enjoyment, for theater, for reading, for music, and these collective passions have not been completely extinguished even in the hard years of economic crisis following the dissolution of the USSR. The cultural transmission structure of the regime, controlled in the outcomes and in the access modalities, but extremely widespread and efficient, made up of publishing houses, orchestras, theaters and state companies, however suffered a strong repercussion from the financial collapse, after the 1991: the machine capable of producing shows and literature by spreading them throughout the enormous Soviet territory crashed due to lack of funding, and the sudden rise in the cost of books or tickets seriously weighed on a suddenly and dramatically poorer audience.. Only in recent years does Russian culture seem to have found not only a new vitality, which in reality has never been in question, but a new relationship with the public and a new production and distribution structure. The new economic order has also affected the great Russian educational and research structures, without however radically altering thestatus of some of what remain among the largest universities and major polytechnics in the world. Since 1990, UNESCO has begun to include Russian sites among the World Heritage Sites: after the three “pioneering” sites, namely the historic center of St. Petersburg, the Moscow Kremlin and the Khizi Pogost (two wooden churches of the 18th century in Karelia), the list has now reached 25 units, and includes some places of great naturalistic interest, such as the Kamčatka volcanoes or the natural park on the Arctic island of Vrangel.
Contemporary Russian art, in the nineties, experienced a period of great openness to stylistic and formal innovations from the West. The impact with the suggestions of the visual culture of the last decades, finally available without censorship, and the laws of an increasingly global artistic product market have produced rather transitory avant-garde phenomena in results and quality, although highly publicized. Only later did the artists’ production settle on more interesting standards, even if generally linked to a strong recovery of tradition, even of the Soviet one and of socialist realism, albeit relived in an avant-garde context, of video art or of extreme conceptual analyticity. Among the most recent names stand out those of Vadim Zakharov (b.1959), Alexej Shulgin (b. 1963) or the video artist Dimitry Vilensky; Finally, Komar & Melamid (born in 1943 and 1945 respectively), two exponents of theRussian pop art.
The most innovative side of the Russian musical culture of the post-Soviet era is undoubtedly that of rock. Prohibited by the official Soviet culture, Russian rock nevertheless experienced a powerful underground vitality in the last two decades of the twentieth century, especially on the Moscow scene; among the best known names stands that of the band of Pojuschie Gitary ; perhaps the best known Soviet musician of this era, comparable in cultural impact on subsequent generations and in popularity to Bob Dylan, was undoubtedly Vladimir Vysotsky (1938-1980). In the last years of the twentieth century and in the early 2000s, the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to a certain decline of the more underground sounds.(around 1996, for example, the production of one of the bands most loved by young Russians, DDT, is interrupted ) and a real explosion of Russian pop music with an easier and more commercial vein ( Virus and other groups). On the other hand, Boris Grebenshchikov (b.1935), one of the founding fathers of Russian rock, voracious and eclectic musician who founded the Aquarium band, very well known in his country and with a good following in his own country, was able to keep intact. Europe. Grebenshchikov was able to grasp the possibility of combining rock cadences with great skill ethnic sounds, not only Russian but also Armenian, Hindi or African, paying particular attention to the lyrics of the songs, in which he poured a truly unique culture in terms of extension and interests, from Buddhism to Tantric philosophy, to Western lyric.