House of Arts

The writers Kornei Chukovsky and Maxim Gorky were instrumental in opening the House of Arts on 19 November 1919 in the former Yeliseyev House on the corner of the River Moika and Nevsky Prospekt (now home to the Barricade Cinema). Also known as “The Disk” and referred to as a “mad ship” by Olga Forsh, the house was a communal block of flats for writers and artists. Georges Annenkoff recalled: “The House of Arts had a very cheap and, in certain cases, free canteen for artists. The literary and artistic gatherings, debates, discussions and arguments continued without let. The literary studio produced many important works ... Thanks to the energy of Nikolai Gumilyov, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Kornei Chukovsky and Maxim Gorky, the House of Arts soon became the centre of intellectual and artistic life in St Petersburg ... There were regular musical soirées and many fine exhibitions of art ... One member of the house committee, the artist Mstislav Dobuzhinsky, made a series of outstanding drawings of the courtyard. Every morning, the rubbish bin in the courtyard would be filled with the torn manuscripts and scribblings of the inhabitants and guests of the House of Arts” (Georges Annenkoff, Diary of My Meetings, Vol. 1, St Petersburg, 1991, pp. 97–98).

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