What is in a Samovar? The Russian Crisis, the Soviet Adventure, and the Post- Soviet Enterprise on Paintings Featuring an Innocuous Water Boiling Device


Location: DeBartolo Hall, Room 117

Gábor Tamás Rittersporn, director for research and senior research fellow, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris)

Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet painters have been busy painting samovars since the early 1840s. At first sight, nothing seems to be a more innocent exercise. Yet a closer look reveals that the object was and is not a simple water boiling utensil for most of artists, so much so that they often neglected and continue to neglect the forms and materiality of the samovar or the singular light effects it may produce. Many a painter wanted, and has the intention today, as well, to convey a message by placing a samovar or two on pictures. But even samovars, which have not really been intended to speak volumes, tell about Russian, Soviet, and post-Soviet history, culture, society, and politics.

Sponsored by the Nanovic Institute for European Studies; cosponsored by the program in Russian and East European Studies, College of Arts and Letters, and Department of History. Admission is free!