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Drawing Russia - the work of artist Pearl Binder in the 1920s and '30s

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Artist and writer, Pearl Binder (1904-1990), a life-long Socialist, visited Russia twice between 1933-1935. She contributed her illustrations to both Krokodil and Bertha Malnick's book ‘Everyday Life in Russia’ (1938) which is a striking document on life of real people in Soviet times that many perceived as utopian, depicted by two British women who came to Russia to get to the truth. When she returned to London, Pearl Binder became one of the founder members of the Artists' International Association in the UK which together with a group of other political cartoonists set out to provide an artists' union for resistance to fascism in the 1930s. The AIA's work underpinned the development of many schemes of art for the people in the 1940s and the Arts Council when it was established in 1945.  

Pearl Binder had a show at the Museum of Western Art in Moscow in 1930s and maintained her contact with Russia throughout her life. She also played an important role in bringing a style of children’s illustration influenced by Russian children’s literature from the 1920s (Krokodil, Sevodna) to the UK in the Penguin Puffin series of the 1940s. (Victoria Lomasko is a Penguin author as well, her book ‘Other Russias’ is published by Penguin in 2017). 

In this talk Professor Katy Deepwell will outline the differences and parallels between her depictions of everyday life and contemporary Russian artist Victoria Lomasko’s, whose exhibition opened at Pushkin House till 26th May.

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Katy Deepwell is a feminist art critic and academic. 

She is a Professor of Contemporary Art, Theory and Criticism at Middlesex University London and the founder and editor of  n.paradoxa: international feminist art journal, published 1998 - 2017 by KT press. The titles of her books include: All-Women Spaces in Europe in the Long 1970s’ (c-edited with Agata Jakubowska), (ed) ‘Feminist Art Manifestoes. An Anthology’ (2014), “Women Artists Between the Wars: 'A Fair Field and No Favour’” (2010), (ed. With Mila Bredkhina of ‘The Gender, Theory and Art Anthology’ (Moscow: Rosspen, 2005), among other publications.