Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Mikhail Bulgakov Museum present Little Golden America: Based on a True Story. The exhibition devoted to Ilya Ilf’s and Evgeny Petrov’s travels will contain unique documents, letters, postcards, photographs and objects

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July 20 — August 26, 2018
JULY 4 — SEPTEMBER 2, 2018
June 16 — July 15, 2018
June 7- September 9, 2018
May 22 — July 22, 2018
May 16 — August 26, 2018
May 14 — June 17, 2018
March 28 — April 9 2018

Moscow City Government
Moscow City Department of Culture
Russian Academy of Arts
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Mikhail Bulgakov Museum

LITTLE GOLDEN AMERICA:
BASED ON A TRUE STORY
Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, New York. Photo: Ilya Ilf. 1935. "How many times, passing by, we could not contain ourselves, sighing and muttering: "Ah, the devil!—Well, well! That's something!" or words to that effect". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Ford, in which Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov travelled across America. Photo: Ilya Ilf. 1935. "There is a great variety of different signposts on the road (…) They are never conditional and never require any decoding. In America you will never find a mysterious blue triangle in a red square, a sign over which you may wrack your brain for hours. Most of the road indicators are on round mirrored glasses which at night reflect the glare of automobile lights. Thus, the sign shines of itself". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Petrol Station. Photo: Ilya Ilf. 1935. "Among the millions of automobiles flying from ocean to ocean, we, too, were a grain of dust chased by a petrol storm which has been raging for ever so many years over America. Our machine raced past rows of petrol stations, each of which had six, eight, or even ten red or yellow pumps. We stopped at one of these to fill our tank". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America) Or: "An American small town acquires its character not from its buildings, but from its automobiles and everything that is connected with them— petrol stations, repair stations, Ford stores, or General Motors stores. These attributes apply to all American cities". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Petrol Station. Photo: Ilya Ilf. 1935. "Among the millions of automobiles flying from ocean to ocean, we, too, were a grain of dust chased by a petrol storm which has been raging for ever so many years over America. Our machine raced past rows of petrol stations, each of which had six, eight, or even ten red or yellow pumps. We stopped at one of these to fill our tank". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America) Or: "An American small town acquires its character not from its buildings, but from its automobiles and everything that is connected with them— petrol stations, repair stations, Ford stores, or General Motors stores. These attributes apply to all American cities". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Arizona desert. Photo: Ilya Ilf. 1935. "… I left the Grand Canyon in the morning and drove on through the desert all day long. How great I felt in this desert of many colours. I have never seen anything better than this". (From Ilya Ilf’s letter to his wife Maria Ilf. November 28, 1935)
Ilya Ilf’s postcard to his wife. Sent from New York on October 9, 1953. The Huge Shelton Hotel in this postcard is where the two writers stayed. "At the twenty-seventh story we left the elevator and walked along a narrow corridor to our rooms. The large second-rate New York hotels in the centre of the city are built very economically. Their corridors are narrow, their rooms, although expensive, are small, and their ceilings are of standard height—that is, rather low. The client poses before the builder the problem of squeezing into a skyscraper as many rooms as possible. These small rooms, however, are clean and comfortable". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Ilya Ilf’s postcard to his wife. Sent from New York on October 9, 1953. The Huge Shelton Hotel in this postcard is where the two writers stayed. "At the twenty-seventh story we left the elevator and walked along a narrow corridor to our rooms. The large second-rate New York hotels in the centre of the city are built very economically. Their corridors are narrow, their rooms, although expensive, are small, and their ceilings are of standard height—that is, rather low. The client poses before the builder the problem of squeezing into a skyscraper as many rooms as possible. These small rooms, however, are clean and comfortable". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Ilya Ilf’s postcard to his wife. Sent from New York on October 9, 1953. The Huge Shelton Hotel in this postcard is where the two writers stayed. "At the twenty-seventh story we left the elevator and walked along a narrow corridor to our rooms. The large second-rate New York hotels in the centre of the city are built very economically. Their corridors are narrow, their rooms, although expensive, are small, and their ceilings are of standard height—that is, rather low. The client poses before the builder the problem of squeezing into a skyscraper as many rooms as possible. These small rooms, however, are clean and comfortable". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)
Ilya Ilf’s postcard to his wife. Sent from New York on October 9, 1953. The Huge Shelton Hotel in this postcard is where the two writers stayed. "At the twenty-seventh story we left the elevator and walked along a narrow corridor to our rooms. The large second-rate New York hotels in the centre of the city are built very economically. Their corridors are narrow, their rooms, although expensive, are small, and their ceilings are of standard height—that is, rather low. The client poses before the builder the problem of squeezing into a skyscraper as many rooms as possible. These small rooms, however, are clean and comfortable". (Ilya Ilf, Evgeny Petrov. Little Golden America)

Created by Roma Liberov

Curators: Roma Liberov, Ekaterina Kuzmina

Research curator:  Maria Kotova

Exhibition design: Anna Rumyantseva

Wall design: ZUKCLUB, Parallel Comics Publishing House

Voices of the exhibition: Ivan Urgant & Vladimir Pozner

Audio recording: Alexander Truhan (Vox Records)

 

In 1935–1936 Soviet authors Ilya Ilf and Evgeny Petrov spent four months in the United States of America. Having crossed the country from ocean to ocean by car, back in the USSR they co-wrote Little Golden America — the travel notes that some American journalists of the time praised as the most insightful book on their homeland.

Travelling across America, Ilya Ilf sent home daily letters, postcards and telegrams. When he returned, he brought back a lot of souvenirs, as well as many letters and telegrams he had received during his trip from his wife Marusya. After his death, Ilya Ilf’s unique archive documenting the authors’ road-trip was preserved by his daughter Aleksandra Ilf.

Now, Ilya Ilf’s American archive will be available to the public for the first time.

Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Mikhail Bulgakov Museum present Little Golden America: Based on a True Story. The exhibition devoted to Ilya Ilf’s and Evgeny Petrov’s travels will contain unique documents, letters, postcards, photographs and objects, including the following: 

  • a letter describing the process of choosing a car to travel in;
  • a telegram informing Ilya Ilf that his daughter has cut the second tooth;
  • a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge at the time of its construction;
  • the first edition of Little Golden  America (1937) signed by Evgeny Petrov for the Soviet Consul in New York Jean Arens.
  • a set of postcards with Grand Canyon, which Ilya Ilf brought to Moscow. 

In MMOMA galleries, redesigned by Moscow-based street-art group ZUKCLUB, the viewers will get a chance read a different Little Golden America, and see American roads, the desert of Nevada, and Hollywood in its Golden Age with the eyes of the famous authors of The Twelve Chairs and The Little Golden Calf.

The exhibition is dedicated to the memory of Aleksandra Ilyinichna Ilf (1935–2013)

MMOMA and Mikhail Bulgakov Museum would like to express their sincere gratitude to the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art, Odessa Museum of Literature, The Polytechnic Museum and The State Museum of V. V. Mayakovsky, who have kindly provided objects and documents for the exhibition.

In partnership with OAO NOVATEK

 

Radio partner:

 
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