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Soviet Metro Stations
By Christopher Herwig. Edited by Damon Murray, Stephen Sorrell. Essay by Owen Hatherley.
From the author of Soviet Bus Stops, an underground trip through the Soviet Metro
“For us,” said Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in his memoirs, “there was something supernatural about the Metro.” Visiting any of the dozen or so Metro networks built across the Soviet Union between the 1930s and 1980s, it is easy to see why. Rather than the straightforward systems of London, Paris or New York, these networks were used as a propaganda artwork—a fusion of sculpture, architecture and art that combined Byzantine, medieval, baroque and constructivist ideas and infused them with the notion that communism would mean a “communal luxury” for all. Today these astonishing spaces remain the closest realization of a Soviet utopia.
Following his bestselling quest for Soviet Bus Stops, Canadian photographer Christopher Herwig has completed a subterranean expedition photographing the stations of each Metro network of the former USSR. From extreme marble and chandelier opulence to brutal futuristic minimalist glory, Soviet Metro Stations documents this wealth of diverse architecture. Along the way Herwig captures the elements that make up this singular Soviet experience: neon, concrete, escalators, signage, mosaics and relief sculptures all combine to build a vivid map of the Soviet Metro.
Soviet Metro Stations includes an essay by the leading architectural and political writer Owen Hatherley, author of the acclaimed books Landscapes of Communism (2015), Trans-Europe Express (2018) and The Adventures of Owen Hatherley in the Post-Soviet Space.
Featured image is reproduced from 'Soviet Metro Stations.'
PRAISE AND REVIEWS
Herwig’s images take viewers on a journey through the architectural and political influences of decades past.
Christopher Herwig celebrate[s] the metro’s expansive architectural legacy, travelling as far as Tashkent and Baku.
Herwig suggests [with his photographs] that if owning a car was the American dream, a world-class subway was pushed as part of the Soviet dream.
Herwig's photos ... break the underground open like a geode to reveal the intricate world within. Each station seems more imaginative than the next...looking ahead toward a space-traveling, futuristic utopia.
Already alive to the unexpected beauty of Soviet bus stops, photographer Christopher Herwig now turns his lens on the grandeur of Soviet design below ground.
Christopher Herwig has completed a subterranean expedition photographing the stations of each Metro network of the former USSR. From extreme marble and chandelier opulence to brutal futuristic minimalist glory, Soviet Metro Stations documents this wealth of diverse architecture.
Christopher Herwig spent many early mornings capturing the pre-rush-hour emptiness of Soviet metro stations with their exhilarating mix of propaganda, exquisite mosaics and cosmic lighting fixtures.
From Kyivska’s Kharkiv Metro to Moscow’s Tulskaya stop, Christopher Herwig photographs Soviet-era train stations all over Ukraine, Russia, Georgia and beyond. The project (and now book) follows his previous endeavor photographing bus stations, and the result is quite stunning. Whether featuring opulent chandeliers and luxurious marble or mosaics celebrating hard work, each subterranean scene is a peek behind what was the Iron Curtain.
Herwig's photography [in Soviet Metro Stations] gives an insight into the array of political influences and architectural styles seen during the Soviet era.
[Soviet Metro Stations] is a stunning collection of images showcasing the elaborate stations that feature a mix of Byzantine, medieval, baroque architectural styles, and the stories behind them.
Shana Nys Dambrot
[Herwig's] photographs are hyper-perfect, composed for maximum effect to showcase each station’s dramatically unique personality, energy, opulence and cathedral-like scale.
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FROM THE ARTBOOK BLOG
CORY REYNOLDS | DATE 10/9/2019
Featured stations (Avtovo, Saint Petersburg and Elektrozavodskaya, Moscow) are reproduced from Soviet Metro Stations, the new book from Christopher Herwig, author of previous Fuel bestsellers Soviet Stops I and II. In his essay, “The Heavens Underground,” Owen Hatherley advocates looking at Soviet Metro stations not nostalgically, but based on the urgent needs of the twenty-first century. “We all know that urban economies based on private transport are completely unsustainable—wasteful of resources, poorly organized and hugely destructive of urban and rural space—but we also know that the desire to have a car, to be in one, and to dream of the dubious delights of totally private transport is a powerful force. Rather than attempting to counter this with ordinary buses and shabby tubes, we need another dream to pose against the car. This is where the Soviet Metro truly comes in… as existing spaces, these stations incarnate something important. That is, what Bini Adamczak… calls ‘Communist desire’—the desire to live in a Communist way, in truly Communist spaces. These incredible halls, where some of the greatest art and architecture of the twentieth century is just part of your daily routine, and where head-spinningly dreamlike communal spaces are also places you go through on your way to meet friends, go to work, go to the cinema or the football—these are much more than scattered remnants of a vainglorious empire. They’re an unsurpassed vision of what the public spaces of the Communist future could be like everywhere.” continue to blog
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