Refregier visited a wide variety of cities, regions and republics and recounted events he attended and the people and places he encountered from weddings, to factories, to city planners, to collective farms and scientific academies, etc. While the recollections are clearly told from a pro-Soviet perspective, they are very interesting as they are not devoid of a critical eye and as he met so many different types of people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
The book is well worth seeking out if for no other reason than as a refreshing counterpoint to standard American Cold War narratives of the period about the USSR.
Happily, there is another reason to seek the book out, however, and that is the incredible sketches of daily life that Refregier did and that are to be found throughout the book.
These sketches are amazing and should not be lost. While seemingly simple in style, they convey a real sense of character, time and place.
Today we take a look at some of the sketches from his travels to Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg of course). In a future post we will look at some of those from the Ukraine, Latvia, Armenia, Turkmenia and Georgia.
Refregier died while working on a mural in Moscow in 1979. Some biographical details of his life can be found from the book at the end of this post.
(Click on images to enlarge)