Material evidence: a folder with sketches

30 november – 14 february
Pechora Museum of History and Local Lore
Sovetskaia st. 33

The GULAG History Museum continues the series of one-item exhibitions representing material evidence of the epoch of the Stalinist repression. The new exhibition is dedicated to the folder with sketches of toys created by the artist Boris Kreytser in a camp.

Boris Kreytser was an outstanding book illustrator, architect, and poster artist. His close ties with foreign colleagues and the fact of living in a communal flat with Japanese specialists made him a target of the NKVD’s attention (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs). In 1938, he barely avoided execution by shooting in connection to a fabricated case and was sent to camps as a German and Japanese spy.

During his incarceration in the Republic of Komi, Kreytser created a series of sketches of toys on the demand of the NKVD. This folder with sketches is kept in the Collection of the GULAG History Museum. It is material evidence of the person’s ability to create bright and unusual toys for kids in such incredibly hard conditions and at the request of his persecutors.

After 20 years spent in camps, Kreytser came back to Leningrad in 1956. Being fully rehabilitated, he managed to get back to his artistic activity. He got involved in publishing and restarted creating book illustrations, easel graphic works, and graphic works for the theater. However, he never forgot the experienced horror. Once he told a director of a publishing house, “You talk to me as a camp director would do.” In case of an unexpected phone call, he used to repeat, “[They came] after me.”

The exhibition dedicated to the memory of Boris Kreytser shows his sketches, illustrated books, and photographs from his personal archive.

The full program of events in Arkhangelsk.