Moscow Metro Mosaics

Mosaic, Russian metro, Vladimir Frolov, public art

Public Art: Moscow Metro Mosaics

Artists: © Alexander Deyneka (May 20th, 1899 - June 12th, 1969) , Vladimir Frolov (1874-1942), G. Opryshko, S. Volkov, G.Rublev, B.Iordansky, A.V. Myzin,  Pavel Korin (July 8th, 1892 - November 22nd, 1967) and Iosif Rabinovich

Description: All the mosaics that adorn the ceilings of the Moscow Metro were based on stetches by famous artist Deyneka.

Alexander Deyneka created the 34 ceiling mosaics at the Mayakovskaya station entitled  "24-Hour Soviet Sky"  which aim was to depict a bright Soviet future envisioned by the poet Mayakovsky. Above the bust of the poet in the entrance hall can be found the mosaic composition from Mayakovsky's poem "Moscow Sky". The mosaics included war planes flying over fruit orchards, naval scenes, two men flying in the clouds, sunflowers, fruit trees and a mother holding a child as planes fly overhead.

Novokuznetskaya station includes seven hexagonal ceiling mosaics by Vladimir Frolov based on the wartime industry themes.

The Avtozavodskaya station includes eight mosaics depicting events of the Great Patriotic War.

At the end of the Baumanskaya station is a mosaic of Vladimir Lenin.

On the Belorusskaya (Koltsevaya Line) are 12 octagonal mosaics by G. Opryshko, S. Volkov, and I. Morozov depicting Belarusian daily life.

Dobrininskaya station - This features three large floor-to-ceiling mosaics by G.Rublev and B.Iordansky. The central mosaic includes a large banner with a profile of Vladimir Lenin and the 16 Coats of Arms of Soviet Socialist Republics. The mosaics on either side feature images of two Parades on the Red Square, the left features Soviet athletes and the right of the Soviet Military, which originally featured a portrait of Stalin being carried but this was removed in 1961 and then carefully replaced with an image of Yuri Gagarin.  Yelena Yason-Manizer created the original bas-relief at the end of the station which featured a large profile of Joseph Stalin and Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union. However during the de-Stalinization in 1961 this was removed and in 1967 replaced by the present mosaic (still by Yelena Yason-Manizer) called Morning of the Cosmic Era which features a mother and her baby playing with a rocket.

The Kiyevskaya station features 23 mosaics. A large mosaic at the end of the platform of the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line which commemorates the 300th anniversary of the reunification of Russia and Ukraine. On the Koltsevaya Line are large mosaics by A.V. Myzin celebrating Russo-Ukrainian unity.

The Komsomolskaya station on the Koltsevaya Line features eight large ceiling mosaics by Pavel Korin. Korin said his inspirations for the mosaics came from the speech made by Joseph Stalin at the Moscow Parade of 1941, where he gave an inspirational speech to his soldiers as they were facing catastrophic losses during the early period of World War II. In the speech he asked them to remember the historical heroics of their Russian forefathers. The mosiacs include:

1.Alexander Nevsky after the Battle on the Ice in 1242.
2.Dmitry Donskoy after the Battle of Kulikovo in 1380.
3.Kuzma Minin and Dmitry Pozharsky after the end of the "Time of Troubles", 1612.
4.Alexander Suvorov after the Crossing of the Alps in 1799.
5.Mikhail Kutuzov after the Battle of Borodino in 1812.
6.The original mosaic featured Red Army troops on Red Square receiving the Guards banner from Soviet army command in 1945. However, because it contained images of some commanders whose careers and legacy would later be sen as controversial (including Joseph Stalin) most of the mosaic was replaced with that of Vladimir Lenin addressing a meeting in Red Square, thus moving the date of the artwork to a period between 1917 and 1922.
7.The Soviet Troops on the Reichstag building after the Battle of Berlin in 1945 (according to some, the original banner had superimposed profiles of Lenin and Stalin: the latter was removed to leave just Lenin remaining).
8.The original image was of a Victory parade with Soviet soldiers throwing captured Nazi banners in front of Lenin's mausoleum in 1945. Unfortunately several of the people featured fell out of favour with the public  and the mosiac would see numerous retouchings. The first to go was Lavrenty Beria following his arrest in 1953. Initially it was only his glasses that were erased but soon after the whole figure was removed. Then in 1957, after the political crisis saw the end of the careers of Vyacheslav Molotov and Lazar Kaganovich, their images vanished. Finally, in 1963, following Stalin's fall from grace, the whole panel was taken down and Korin asked to re-designed it.  He replaced Stalin with a maiden (symbolising Mother Russia) standing on the Nazi banners in front of the same mausoleum, holding a hammer and sickle in one hand and a palm branch in the other. This final mosaic alone is made of more than 300 thousand tiles and takes up 31.5 square metres and weighs more than three tonnes.

At the end of the Novoslobodskaya Station platform is a mosaic by Pavel Korin entitled "Peace Throughout the World."

Paveletskaya (Koltsevaya Line) Inside above the escalator is a circular mosaic panel by Pavel Korin of Red Square which features  Lenin's Mausoleum and the St Basil's Cathedral. Iosif Rabinovich created the  mosaic on the dome of the vestibule on the theme of the permanent end to drought in the Volga.

Date Unveiled: The  Mayakovskaya station opened on 11 September 1938, the Novokuznetskaya station was opened in 1943

Location: The mosaics can be found at the Novokuznetskaya, Avtozavodskaya and Mayakovskaya metro stations in Moscow, Russia.

History of the Moscow Metro: It was in the 1930s that Joseph Stalin ordered the building of the Soviet Union's first underground railway system, the Moscow Metro (Moskovsky metropoliten). When it opened in 1935 there was a single 11km (6.8 miles) line with 13 stations.Today there 12 lines, 185 stations and nearly 306km (190miles) of rail. Over 6.6 million people use the system each day.

Long before Stalin gave orders to build the metro, plans were well and truly underway for an underground railway system in Moscow but thanks to World War I, the October Revolution and the Russian Civil War they were postponed. In 1923 an Underground Railway Design Office was established with their first role was to carry out preliminary studies. By 1928 they had developed a project for the first route. Approval was given in  1931 by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for construction to commence. Stalin ordered the metro’s artists and architects to design a structure that embodied svet "radiance or brilliance" and svetloe budushchee "a radiant future". He also ordered the architects to design structures which would encourage citizens to look up, admiring the station’s art. The general design for the Metro was drawn up by Stalin's friend Lazar Kaganovich. Construction engineers consulted with their counterparts from the London Underground, the world's oldest metro system. The first line was open to the public on the 15th of May, 1935.

Tragic End - Many of the mosaics by Vladimir Frolov can be found at the Novokuznetskaya metro station, which was opened in 1943 right in the middle of World War II. Not surprising the main theme of the huge mosaics on the ceilings are of war and the Soviet people's resillience during it. The mosaics were created by famed Russian artist Vladimir Frolov from sketches by another famous artist Deyneka. Frolov had assembled the pieces in his Leningrad workshop, which was quite remarkable, considering the city was under siege and cut off from the rest of the country. It was war time, temperatures in Leningrad were below freezing, people were on severe rations due to food shortages and the city was constantly under bombardment yet there was the 68 year old painstakingly assembling the peach gardens, blue skies and pink airplanes, piece by piece. All he asked of the government was that he had enough kerosene for his lamps so he could continue working.  When completed he had the mosaics shipped along a frozen truck route and three days later he died from starvation.

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