Collecting contemporary photography is one of the priorities of the State Museum and Exhibition Centre ROSPHOTO. Since 2002, ROSPHOTO has been especially active in expanding the contemporary part of its photography collection. The importance of preservation of photographic heritage pertinent to the history of St. Petersburg determines the strategy of collecting mostly St.-Petersburg authors. At the same time, in collecting contemporary photography, ROSPHOTO selects works of certain masters from other places in Russia, the ones who have greatly influenced the development of photography in Russia since early 1970s.

The works in the exhibition represent just a small part of ROSPHOTO collection. Embracing the period from 1970s to the 1990s in the history of Soviet/Russian photography, these photographs introduce to the audience a variety of creative approaches within the aesthetical and formalist search of the last quarter of XX century, as well as the reaction to the social and cultural situation in the country.

The exhibition includes over 150 artworks of 40 authors, many of them doubtlessly belonging to the gold reserves of the Russian photographic heritage. Among the authors represented in the exhibition are Alexander Slyusarev, Vladimir Antoshenkov, Vladimir Syomin, Stanislav Yavorsky, Gunar Binde, Georgy Poylov, Boris Smelov, Ilya Narovlyansky, Boris Kudryakov, Nikolay Kulebyakin, Sergey Leontyev, Igor Mukhin and other outstanding Russian photographers.

The exhibition of Boris Smelov’s work is part of this project. Smelov is one of the most outstanding Soviet Underground artists and the founder of the ‘unofficial photography’ of the 1970–1990’s. He worked in almost all genres: portrait, reportage, still life and landscape. The current exhibition covers his still-lives made in the 1970s–1990s.

Smelov’s main theme was Leningrad – St.-Petersburg. His name is associated with the notion of ‘St.-Petersburg still life’. By using in his still lives old objects from St.-Petersburg households, Boris Smelov created images filled with deep nostalgia for the past. This mood is especially typical of his works dating back to the 1970’s. Comparable to paintings, Smelov’s still lives have been exhibited both at non-official private exhibitions and in world famous museums. Boris Smelov's works can be found in private and public collections in Russia, USA, France, Sweden, Italy, Great Britain, Germany and Austria.