Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title The Vernacular Art in Urban Space: The Characteristics of the Phenomenon and the Prospects of Study
Author email
About author Smirnov, Aleksey Victorovich — full doctor, associate professor. Saint Petersburg State University, Universitetskaia nab., 7/9, 199034 St. Petersburg, Russian Federation.
In the section Art Theory DOI10.18688/aa188-6-59
Year 2018 Volume 8 Pages 600608
Type of article RAR Index UDK 130.2 Index BBK 85.118

Russian vernacular art (or yard art) has a specific form. One on the types of such art is now known as “JKH-art” (from Russian this abbreviation means “housing service”), that is the small art-objects which were installed by the residents of the city blocks. This report concerns the images and the technologies which are proper to yard art in contemporary Russia. We have inferred that this kind of urban art is not associated completely with the traditional applied art. The trends of yard art development are determined by two contradictions. The first of them is related with the variety of creative activities practiced by the inhabitants of contemporary Russian cities. The second opposition between vernacular and public art demonstrates the difference of esthetic ideals proper to various social groups of city residents. The main part of these residents treats the professional public art as an aggressive form of hostile invasion to the appropriated area (unlike the practices we have mentioned above as a vernacular art).

We have outlined some directions for the development of vernacular art studies:

  1. to determine the sources of contemporary yard art images and construction technologies;
  2. to explore how the images of vernacular art substitute the traditional ones of applied art;

to identify the degree of mutual influence between the vernacular art and the bricolage as a usage of industrial and household waste products for creating new implements.

Reference Smirnov, Aleksey V. The Vernacular Art in Urban Space: The Characteristics of the Phenomenon and the Prospects of Study. Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art: Collection of articles. Vol. 8. Ed. S. V. Mal’tseva, E. Iu. Staniukovich-Denisova, A. V. Zakharova. — St. Petersburg: St. Petersburg Univ. Press, 2018, pp. 600–608. ISSN 2312-2129.
Publication Article language russian
  • Arkhipov V. Vynuzhdennye veschi. 105 shtukovin s golosami ikh sozdatelei iz kollektsii Vladimira Arkhipova (The Compelled Things. 105 Contraptions with the Voices of Their Creators from the Vladimir Arkhipov’s Collection). Moscow, Typolygon Publ., 2003. 223 p. (in Russian).
  • Cieraad I. (ed.). At Home: An Anthropology of the Domestic Space. Syracuse, Syracuse University Press Publ., 1999. 184 p.
  • Erdakova E. Let’s Live in Peace. The Village: web magazine. Available at: (accessed 15 January 2017).
  • Grigoryeva D. Yard Art: What Is inside and Where It Came from? UrbanUrban: web magazine. Available at: (accessed 15 January 2017).
  • Kuznetsov K. Can It Be Enough to Make the Swans out of Tyres? web newspaper. Available at: (accessed 15 January 2017).
  • Lebedev A. Yard art. blog. Available at: html (accessed 15 January 2017).
  • Lefebvre H. Proizvodstvo prostranstva (The Production of Space). Moscow, Strelka Press Publ., 2015. 428 p. (in Russian).
  • Nokes J.; Jasper P. Yard Art and Handmade Places: Extraordinary Expressions of Home. Austin, University of Texas Press Publ., 2007. 170 p.
  • Novichkov N. V. Urban Art and the Destiny of Modern City. Sovremennye problemy servisa i turizma (Modern Problems of the Service and Tourism), 2013, vol. 4, pp. 29-37 (in Russian).
  • Orlova G. A. Apology of the Curious Thing: Little Tricks of the Soviet People. Neprikosnovennyi zapas (Emergency Store), 2004, vol. 2 (34), pp. 84-90 (in Russian).
  • Piir A. M. Beautification and Exemplary Life of Leningrad Yards: A Dialogue between Local Authorities and District Residents. Antropologhitcheskii forum (Anthropological Forum), 2011, vol. 15, pp. 236-267 (in Russian).
  • Ponosov I. G. Iskusstvo i gorod: graffiti, ulichnoe iskusstvo, aktivizm (Art and City: Graffity, Street-Art, Activism). Moscow, 2016. 208 p. (in Russian).
  • Sheehy C. J. The Flamingo in the Garden: American Yard Art and the Vernacular Landscape. New York, Gartland, 1998. 200 p.
  • Smirnov A. V. Spontaneous Design: Strategy of Scientific Description. Studia Culturae, 2014, vol. 20, pp. 7485 (in Russian).
  • Smirnov A. V. Vernacular Art as a Strategy of the Urban Space Design. Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo gosudarstvennogo universiteta tekhnologhii i dizaina (Bulletin of St. Petersburg State University of Technology and Design), Ser. 3, 2016, vol. 4, pp. 64-68 (in Russian).
  • Synnott A. Pink Flamingoes: Symbols and Symbolism in the Yard Art. Dominant Symbols in Popular Culture. Bowling Green, Ohio, Bowling Green State University Popular Press Publ., 1990, pp. 96-127.
  • Utekhin I. V. Ocherki kommunalnogo byta (Essays on Communal Living). Moscow, Obedinennoe gumanitarnoe izdatel’stvo Publ., 2004. 277 p. (in Russian).
  • Varlamov I. Yard Art. personal blog. Available at: (accessed 15 January 2017).
  • Vlasova E. G.; Antipina Z. S. Street-Art and Yard Beautification as a Form of Urban Space Familiarization (the Example of Modern Perm). Etnograficheskoe obozrenie (Ethnografic Revue), 2015, vol. 5, pp. 73-82 (in Russian).
  • Zolotonosov M. N. Glyptokratos. Issledovanie nemogo diskursa (Glyptokratos. The Examination of the Silent Discource). Saint Petersburg, Inapress Publ., 1999. 208 p. (in Russian).