West-östlicher Diwan in St. Petersburg
 

 

In the countries of the Middle East, the word “divan” originally meant “account book” or “register”, but, over time, it came to denote state “chancelleries”, high-ranking “councils” or “offices”, which, in turn, provided the name for the furniture characteristic of such establishments. Collections of lyrical verses were also called “divans” (for example, The Divan of Hafez, a collection of verses by the celebrated Persian poet). In Europe, the word “divan”, in the sense of an object of interior design, came into general use at the beginning of the 18th century. The literary meaning of the word became known only a century later. Goethe’s collection The West-Eastern Divan, one of the first attempts to bring together Eastern and Western poetic traditions, was instrumental in the appearance of this meaning. (Our logo, WöD is an abbreviation of the original German title, West-östlicher Diwan, and it is used by literary scholars.)  Different fragments of this collection had already been translated into Russian by the 1820s, but it took until 1988 for a rather complete edition of this work, including poetry and prose sections along with scholarly commentary, to come out. It would seem that this event resonated with St. Petersburg’s art world. In April of 1993, for example, a landmark exhibition, The West-Eastern Divan, mounted by artist Timur Novikov, curator and art critic Ivan Chechot and the Navicula Artis Gallery, opened at the Nikolaevsky Palace (the Palace of Labour during Soviet times). A year later, poet Dmitry Golynko-Wolfson organized a series of similarly-titled cultural events in artists’ apartments and at the Borey Art Gallery.     

   WöD is a combination sanctum for art lovers and bar – here you will find works on paper and photographs by contemporary artists on sale, collections of books, fresh brewed coffee, light meals, wine, and more…