Vladimir Mayakovsky bust, Moscow metro


Note: Click on photos to view them in a larger size.


The new, northern, vestibule of the Mayakovsky stop is one of my favorite places in Moscow’s metro system. It is challenged only by the spectacular platform of the Dostoevskaya stop, about which I have already written on this blog space. Hard to believe it’s been in use now for nine years, but that’s what Wikipedia tells me. It was opened Sept. 2, 2005.
There is a bust here of the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930) that, to the best of my knowledge, is a small copy of the head portion of Alexander Kibalnikov’s monumental full-body statue that stands a few dozen meters away in the middle of Triumphal (formerly Mayakovsky) Square. (For the record I’ve written a bit about that, here, too.) The bust, like the statue on the street, is a fine likeness. It has that hard, dynamic, energetic feel that Mayakovsky did himself. There are a lot of great images of Mayakovsky out there – just Google him and hit “images” and you’ll see what I mean.
But it’s not the bust that makes this space such a success. That is actually a modest detail, quite small actually, placed to one side of the vestibule. No, what makes this space so exciting is the vaulted mosaic ceiling. Again, Russian Wikipedia tells us that artist Ivan Lubennikov and three other unnamed artists worked for over three years creating the mosaics. They mix sky images with shapes drawn from the Constructivist style of using circles, oblongs, lines and rectangles in designs. Scattered in and amongst the images and backgrounds are bits and pieces of Mayakovsky’s poetry. The large, yellow background – nothing sky-like in that – really gives the whole space a bright, happy feel that contrasts with, and reflects well in, the black marble walls. The geometric shapes, then, placed around the ceiling, are like apertures revealing a sky that is located somewhere beyond the ceilings. Up there clouds drift, airplanes fly, and rainbows come swooping down towards us. One of the coolest angles from which to see the ceiling is on the up escalator. The higher up you go, the more the ceiling and the sky “beyond” it are revealed.

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Lubennikov, born in Minsk in 1951, has done quite a bit of work for metro spaces, including for two other relatively new Moscow stops – Sretensky Boulevard and Slavyansky Boulevard. He also created the stained glass design of the Russian folk figure Speckled Hen for the renovated Madeleine stop on the Paris metro, line 14. That design was installed in 2009, and you can see a small gallery of photos by going to an article on the Vesti.ru website. Don’t be daunted if you don’t read Russian – just click on the small boxes beneath the larger image at the head of the story. This is what Russian Wikipedia has to say about the Paris design:
“The Speckled Hen composition is unique in that it is the personification of a whole country as seen by Russian artist Ivan Lubennikov. This work suggests a quilt sewn from various patches; you can see a samovar, the first sputnik, the hammer and sickle, a Moscow metro station, golden domes with crosses and the Kremlin, while Malevich’s Black Square is located in the middle of the image of the chicken. The stained glass panel stands against a black background and is flanked by French and Russian texts telling the story of Speckled Hen. Some of the French inscription crosses over from the wall onto a golden egg.”
None of this has much to do with the Mayakovsky stop in Moscow, but it does whet my appetite to get back to Paris to shoot pictures of Lubennikov’s Speckled Hen. I’m always looking for reasons to go to Paris.

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