Soviet still life

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I never lived in the USSR, and I’m not even Russian. Somehow, though, I still get nostalgia for, what seems like sweeter, simpler times.

homemade kvas (

One of the biggest surprises to me when I first lived in Russia was the amount of pro-Communist sentiment and nostalgia still going strong in Russia. I was shocked at the number of people in this country who still miss the Soviet Union.

Every May Day (WWII Victory Day celebrations) you get parades of people carrying red carnations and dressed up in their Soviet military uniforms, and invariably run into pensioners carrying portraits of Stalin.

Happy New Year, Soviet style (

Nostalgia, and genuine heartache for the USSR is still going strong in Russia.

In Russia’s last political election – the Parliament elections two months ago – the runner-up to Putin’s ruling party was the Communist Party, with candidates promising tons of socialist benefits like more kindergartens, pension benefits, and most of all a return of Russia to her place among the world’s greatest countries.

image from

I won’t get into politics, but I can understand the nostalgia without being Communist, especially after the dark nineties in the decade after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

I ran across these pictures browsing online, and thought they represented the nostalgia well. Not to mention that they’re absolutely gorgeous!

tea cups and doilies

an авоська full of groceries

Wouldn’t these make fantastic still-life paintings?? I don’t think economist husband would agree with me, though. As someone who actually spent their childhood in the USSR, he doesn’t seem to suffer from nostalgia for авоська, heavy dark wood furniture and old copies of Правда newspaper.

actually, I'm not nostalgic for the good old 'do-your-laundry-by-hand' days...!

image from

Which of these do you think would make a good still life? Maybe the grocery one? Or the tea cups?? I think this might be my next painting project….

P.S. a BBC article, written after a commuter trip on one of Russia’s electric trains, highlighting nostalgia among Russian voters…

At Moscow’s Kursky Rail Terminal I hop aboard the “elektrichka”. The doors close and Commuter Train 6920 heads east…

Then I meet Albert, who has worked at a saw mill for 20 years. He clearly misses the old days.

“In the past, if you were drunk and you collapsed in the snow, someone would come along to pick you up. These days, you’re left to freeze. It’s everyone for themselves now.”

Albert has no time for politicians or presidents. “Those government people, they sit there in their suits and ties jabbering away, they never think of the workers. Make them stand for four hours every day on a commuter train. Maybe then they’ll understand what our life is really like.”

-Steve Rosenberg, BBC Moscow

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2 Responses to Soviet still life

  1. I’m whisked away by the photos and their reminiscing, with Kenny G jazz music in my background.

    (My toddler’s smashing bus sounds slightly jar the mood though…)

    Jennifer Dougan

  2. Great pictures! Though just a slight bit of reflection shows us that nostalgia is cherry picking. Even the good elements stemmed essentially out of necessity.

    I also found it great that the example that first came to mind about what was better in the good old days was one of someone falling unconscious from binge drinking.

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