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I like Pintrest. It introduces us to the strangest things, and today, in the Boxing Day spirit, I can claim a new love: for the matchbox covers of Communist Europe.

So far as I can see they're about 50% space race, 30% zoo advertisements, 10% folkloric and 10% misc. These miniature works of art are, in a way, a highly distilled explanation of Soviet art culture, regecting the complications of Western art for clear lines and blocked colours — in some cases, so clear and so blocked that they veer on abstract — with some underlying propagandic purpose. What you have just read is a horrific generalisation but there is not much room for experimentation in a canvas the literal length of a match (and commissioned by the state).

This onslaught is, sadly, my version of restraint. I sincerely fail to choose a favourite — maybe you can have a look at the collection and let me know. Which is loveliest? Alternately, an unexpectedly in-depth analysis on the subject can be found here. I think a healthy balance between HOW PRETTY and HOW SOCIOHISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT is always best.



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