Some artists don't live long enough to experience the recognition they get. Masha Ivashintsova was one of them. This Russian artist and theater critic had been heavily engaged in the Leningrad (now, Saint Petersburg) poetic and photography underground movement of the 1960−80s. Masha loved photography as it always took a major role in her mysterious and painful life. However, she always kept her photographs hidden in her attic, never showing them even to her family. Until now.

Recently, her daughter Asya Ivashintsova-Melkumyan was going through her stuff and found a stunning collection of more than 30,000 images. After deciding to develop these photos, Asya was shocked to discover how well these photos portrayed her mother’s life and the essence of everyday life in the USSR.

“Of course, I knew that my mother was taking pictures all along. What was striking is that she never shared her works with anyone, not even her family.” - Asya said of her mother's work. “She hoarded her photo-films in the attic and rarely developed them, so nobody was ever able to appreciate the fruits of her passion. Those same films remained in the attic of our house in Pushkin, Saint Petersburg, where she originally kept them, after her death in 2000.”

The darker period of Masha’s life took place in a USSR mental hospital. There, she was gradually broken by being forced to take drugs. The Soviet Regime was aiming to 'standardize' people, to make them live by the Communist rules. This dehumanizing control system had a huge impact on Masha. It is also evident in her work. As her daughter says, "Masha had a difficult relationship with communism. She was eventually bulldozed by the party and committed to a mental hospital against her will for her «social sponging» as she could never assimilate to the all-encompassing, shouting world of socialist excitement."

Some people have already called Masha the 'Russian Vivian Maier.' Scroll down to check her work and let us know if you agree with the nickname.

More info: mashaivashintsova.com (h/t demilked)

Meet, Masha Ivashintsova (1942−2000), a woman who was hiding about 30,000 photos she took in the USSR

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#1 Leningrad, USSR, 1977

Leningrad, USSR, 1977

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Unicorn 11 months ago

DOOGOS

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#2 Marta, Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Marta, Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Emilija Juškovė 11 months ago

OMg this shot is so good

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#3 A Portrait Photo Of Asya In 1978

A Portrait Photo Of Asya In 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

TheRubyFalcon 11 months ago

Beautiful (Girl/Dog/Cat)! They are all gorgeous

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#4 Inside The Building

Inside The Building

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Kiahna 11 months ago

Masterpiece.

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#5 Asya And Her Dog Marta, Leningrad, USSR, 1980

Asya And Her Dog Marta, Leningrad, USSR, 1980

Masha Ivashintsova Report

kathryn stretton 11 months ago

Sorry. I am upvoting every single photo on this thread. Can't help it. The STORY !!!! Sorry for shouting.

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#6 Two Girls In Vologda, USSR, 1979

Two Girls In Vologda, USSR, 1979

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Kenny Kulbiski 11 months ago

Village of the damned.

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#7 A Ruined Statue Of Stalin In Leningrad, USSR, 1978

A Ruined Statue Of Stalin In Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Bored Fox 11 months ago

Here in Finland we have a joke that someone should bring all the useless Lenin statues from Russia to Finland because he really looked like one of our beloved comedians, Spede Pasanen. But we don't need the Stalin statues because he does not look like any of our comedians. :)

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#8 Melvar Melkumyan, Moscow, USSR, 1979

Melvar Melkumyan, Moscow, USSR, 1979

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Ginge 11 months ago

Melvar - "WTF!!!!!"

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#9 Melvar Melkumyan With His And Mahsa’s Only Daughter, Asya, Moscow, USSR, 1976

Melvar Melkumyan With His And Mahsa’s Only Daughter, Asya, Moscow, USSR, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

DancingToMyself 11 months ago

This forest...

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#10 Linguist Melvar Melkumyan, Husband And Father, Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Linguist Melvar Melkumyan, Husband And Father, Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

Oh, so he's indeed a sort of scientist, just as I thought!

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#11 Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Masha Ivashintsova Report

P Piorecki 11 months ago

If I didn't know it any better, I would have thought this was St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Interesting...

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#12 The Banks Of The Neva River In Leningrad, 1979

The Banks Of The Neva River In Leningrad, 1979

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Andrew Keane 11 months ago

Really strong silhouettes.

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#13 Street Portrait In St. Petersburg, 1976

Street Portrait In St. Petersburg, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

img 11 months ago

Portrait mode!

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#14 Melvar Melkumyan, Moscow, USSR, 1983

Melvar Melkumyan, Moscow, USSR, 1983

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

I think he was an inspiring mad scientist or something like that.

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#15 A Cosmonaut-Themed Playground In Leningrad

A Cosmonaut-Themed Playground In Leningrad

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Andrew Gibb 11 months ago

Ground control to Major Tomoffski..

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#16 Orehovo, USSR, 1976

Orehovo, USSR, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Apollo 11 months ago

I don't know if this is extremely cute or straight out of a horror movie.

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#17 Tbilisi, 1989

Tbilisi, 1989

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Sol Connor 11 months ago

Look at the way he adores his wife

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#18 Leningrad, USSR, 1977

Leningrad, USSR, 1977

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Apollo 11 months ago

Four cute little kittens.

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#19 Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

DancingToMyself 11 months ago

That kid has an old soul, I mean looks like it.

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#20 Leningrad,USSR, 1975

Leningrad,USSR, 1975

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

That building immediately reminded me of count Olaf's castle-like house. Pandas who have read "A series of unfortunate events" can relate.

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#21 Boys

Boys

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

Two guesses who's the gang's boss ;)

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#22 Leningrad, USSR, 1985

Leningrad, USSR, 1985

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Sophster 11 months ago

'keep walking mister' "grrrrr"

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#23 Leningrad, USSR, 1981

Leningrad, USSR, 1981

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Sophster 11 months ago

sometimes we muzzle ourselves

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#24 Pixie-Faced Boys In Staraya Russa

Pixie-Faced Boys In Staraya Russa

Masha Ivashintsova Report

earringnut 11 months ago

the one on the right is up to something

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#25 Tbilisi, 1989

Tbilisi, 1989

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Samantha Bing 11 months ago

That hair! Beautiful women

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#26 Leningrad,USSR, 1978

Leningrad,USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Claire Von Hirdler 11 months ago

beautiful

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#27 Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Leningrad, USSR, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Frank Muellersman 11 months ago

He is carrying a child. You can see it's foot by the top corner of the bag. But it does look like he is hugging someone. LOL

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#28 Masha Ivashintsova With Her Lover, Photographer Boris Smelov, Leningrad, USSR, 1974

Masha Ivashintsova With Her Lover, Photographer Boris Smelov, Leningrad, USSR, 1974

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Breeanna Brents 11 months ago

Selfie .... before they were cool.

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#29 Toy Store “Detsky Mir”, Dzerzhinsky Square, Moscow, USSR, 1983

Toy Store “Detsky Mir”, Dzerzhinsky Square, Moscow, USSR, 1983

Masha Ivashintsova Report

just a thought! 11 months ago

So dolls were creepy back then too...

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#30 Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Minnie-me 11 months ago

monkey!

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#31 Leningrad, USSR, 1979

Leningrad, USSR, 1979

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Diane Mackereth 11 months ago

Friends having a good time!

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#32 Leningrad, USSR. 1978

Leningrad, USSR. 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

I Love My Dog 11 months ago

From Russia with love

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#33 Masha’s Lover Viktor Krivulin, Novolukoml, Byelorussian Ssr, 1979

Masha’s Lover Viktor Krivulin, Novolukoml, Byelorussian Ssr, 1979

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Gabor Dvornik 11 months ago

Russiand got hippies also.

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#34 Leningrad, USSR, 1983

Leningrad, USSR, 1983

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Ellen Light 11 months ago

The PJ Brigade. :)

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#35 Moscow,USSR, 1978

Moscow,USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Lotta Roos 11 months ago

I think this is Gum, a big departement store. When I was there they had purple and pink night gowns. They also sold fish in big ice blocks, you would buy a piece of the block and hope you would get good parts of fish. We as foreigners could go to special shops and pay with forreign currency.

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#36 Orehovo, USSR, 1976

Orehovo, USSR, 1976

Masha Ivashintsova Report

DancingToMyself 11 months ago

"Orehovo" would mean "Nut's", if I'm not mistaken. "Oreh" means Nut.

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#37 Leningrad,USSR, 1978

Leningrad,USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

bpanther 11 months ago

A busy street... frozen in time, forever !

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#38 Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 1994

Saint-Petersburg, Russia, 1994

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Carole Dose 11 months ago

Nyet! A kopeck or no ride!

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#39 Portrait Of A Family Friend In 1974

Portrait Of A Family Friend In 1974

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

I noticed the other person in the shadow just now and nearly freaked out. Also, I've been in a similar room but the problem is that I can't remember where it could've been. I'm not sure if it had actually happened or my mind made it up. But every time I see a picture of a room with similar design, I remember being in an identical one, simply lying on a bed and starring at the ceiling. And that's one of those moments when I really start wondering if rebirth is really a thing.

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#40 Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Cheryl Thomas 11 months ago

Just kids enjoying a fun-filled day in the snow...

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#41 Leningrad, USSR, 1991

Leningrad, USSR, 1991

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Apollo 11 months ago

Symbol of sadness and despair

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#42 Leningrad,USSR, 1970

Leningrad,USSR, 1970

Masha Ivashintsova Report

DancingToMyself 11 months ago

So they are completely relaxed, sitting around like it's a spring time. And temperature is probably -15°C.

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#43 Nevsky Prospekt, Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Nevsky Prospekt, Leningrad, USSR, 1975

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Diane Mackereth 11 months ago

Spring festival

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#44 Moscow, USSR, 1988

Moscow, USSR, 1988

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

"Drawing portraits. Price by bargain"(left sign), "10 minutes give you eternity"(highest sign), "For 10-15 minutes I'd draw you a portrait"(lower signs, left one) and "Psychological portrait". I just thought some of you who doesn't know the language might like to now what it reads. Not that I know it, it's just that Bulgarian and Russian have some words in common. I found the psychological portrait interesting. Apparently, the term is used only in Russia and some neighbour countries and is drawn in a way that captures the personality of the one drawn on it. Or at least, that's how I understand it, reading from Wikipedia. It's only written in 3-4 languages and I speak none of them.

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#45 Moscow, USSR, 1988

Moscow, USSR, 1988

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Apollo 11 months ago

It's him again.

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#46 Leningrad, USSR, 1988

Leningrad, USSR, 1988

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Zori the degu 11 months ago

Wow, coloured photos!

#47 Leningrad, USSR, 1977

Leningrad, USSR, 1977

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Claire Von Hirdler 11 months ago

i wish i could buy, print and frame some of these!

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#48 Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Leningrad, USSR, 1978

Masha Ivashintsova Report

bpanther 11 months ago

Lovely can and composition... The V between the two buildings points down to the car again !!

#49 Arseny Tarkovsky, Leningrad, USSR, 1981

Arseny Tarkovsky, Leningrad, USSR, 1981

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Emilija Juškovė 11 months ago

This is Andrei Trakovsky father!!!!!!

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#50 Leningrad, USSR, 1974

Leningrad, USSR, 1974

Masha Ivashintsova Report

Ryan Wilkins 11 months ago

First image where you can tell the sun is out in the USSR! These pics are all truly amazing.

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