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Article

Ukrainian, 20th century, male.

Born 1914, in Kiev; died 2000.

Painter. Scenes with figures, landscapes, still-lifes.

Max Birstein studied at the institute of arts in Moscow with Sergei Gerasimov. A socialist realist to begin with, he then changed style, moving towards a Post-Impressionism along the lines of his elders, Robert Falk and Atychler. Birstein mounted many collective and solo exhibitions since ...

Article

Sergey Kuznetsov

[Gorky, Maxim; Peshkov, Aleksey (Maksimovich)]

(b Nizhny Novgorod, March 28, 1868; d Moscow, June 18, 1936).

Russian writer and critic. Early in his career he worked as an art critic for the Nizhegorodskiy Listok and published several articles (May–Sept, 1896) on the All-Russian Industrial and Art Exhibition in Nizhny Novgorod in 1896. His aesthetic principles were very significantly influenced by the ‘philosophy of life’ of Friedrich Nietzsche, but on the other hand he borrowed heavily from the ‘revolutionary democratic aesthetics’ proposed by V. G. Belinsky, N. A. Dobroliubov and N. G. Chernyshevsky. He regarded as great art academic-style paintings that were intelligible to the people, and he opposed the ‘decadent’ and ‘antisocial’, which he saw in much new art, not least the work of Mikhail Vrubel’. Gor’ky’s interest in politics was evident in both his writing (e.g. the novel Mat’ [‘Mother’], 1906) and his fund-raising for the Bolsheviks. However, in his defence of artistic monuments (Revolution and Culture, 1918), he protested that the recent revolution was anti-cultural and in an attempt to oppose the destruction of Russian culture he founded the Culture and Freedom Society, which published a bulletin and collection of articles emphasizing the ideas that the material (outer) culture directly affects the spiritual (inner) one; that culture is non-party; and that the cultural heritage must be preserved. As a realist and a friend of Il’ya Repin he came into conflict not only with formalist critics such as Victor Shklovsky but also those Symbolists, Futurists and other avant-garde artists who felt that the revolution should build a distinctly Soviet culture using new artistic methods and approaches. From ...

Article

Christina Lodder

(Vladimirovich)

(b Moscow, July 25, 1893; d Moscow, Feb 25, 1973).

Russian painter. He was trained in the 19th-century Realist tradition of the Wanderers and became one of the most important artists in establishing Socialist Realism as the official art of the USSR. He studied with Pyotr Kelin in 1912 and at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1913–18) under Nikolay Kasatkin (1859–1930), Abram Arkhipov and Konstantin Korovin. He then served in the Red Army and worked as a stage designer in the province of Kherson from 1919 to 1922. In 1922 he participated in the 47th Wanderers’ exhibition in Moscow and became one of the members of AKhRR (the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia), promoting Realism and attacking the abstract experiments of the avant-garde. Ioganson argued that ‘the Russian painter is an innovator…not an innovator of form divorced from content, but a true innovator, reflecting the new tendencies of reality’.

Ioganson produced highly detailed canvases depicting the new industrial enterprises associated with the building of Socialism, for example the ...

Article

John E. Bowlt

(Timofeyevich)

(b Karakovichi, Smolensk province, June 28, 1874; d Moscow, Oct 9, 1971).

Russian sculptor. From 1892 to 1896 he attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied under Sergey Volnukhin (1859–1921), and from 1899 to 1902 he attended the St Petersburg Academy of Arts, studying under Vladimir Beklemishev (1861–1920). He moved quickly from the academic lessons of these teachers, reflected in such pieces as The Stone-breaker (bronze, 1898; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), to a more lyrical concept in the early 1900s: travelling frequently in Western Europe, he studied the sculpture of Bourdelle, Rodin and Gauguin and produced a number of works that bear their influence such as Nike (marble, 1906) and Lada (marble, 1909) (both Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.). In the 1900s Konyonkov also became increasingly interested in Russian legend and mythology, producing interpretations of such folklore figures as the Bogatyr Kuz’ma Sirafontov (plaster, 1913; Serpukhov, A. Mus.). Because of its malleability and expressive potential, wood became his preferred medium....

Article

Christina Lodder

(b Moscow, 1932).

Russian printmaker and sculptor, active in England. He trained at the Moscow State Art Studios in 1942–7 and at the Moscow Art School (1950–51) in the atmosphere of Socialist Realism. After his national service (1953–6) he studied at the Moscow Animated Film Studios (1956–8). He subsequently joined the Moscow Union of Soviet Artists, exhibiting his work with this organization from 1958 to 1972. During the 1960s he created objects from paper and tin, using paint to enhance the expressive qualities of the forms produced. From 1967 he specialized in drypoint, producing images based on the topography and everyday life of Moscow. In 1974 Kudryashov emigrated from the Soviet Union and settled in London. His work, always inspired by the urban environment, now reflected the buildings, bridges and the demolition he observed around him. The abstract language of bold rectangles and circles, energetically inscribed directly on to the zinc plate, characteristic of later prints such as ...

Article

John E. Bowlt

(Vasil’yevich)

(b Borisoglebsk, Voronezh province, March 10, 1880; d Moscow, March 18, 1960).

Russian painter. After studying at various private art schools, including those of Lev Dmitriyev-Kavkazsky (1849–1916) in St Petersburg and Konstantin Yuon in Moscow, he enrolled in 1906 at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where his principal teacher was Konstantin Korovin. Kuprin quickly became acquainted with contemporary developments in painting, thanks especially to his exposure to the collections of French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works owned by Ivan Morosov and Sergey Shchukin and also the international exhibitions organized by the journal Zolotoye Runo (Golden Fleece). The early works of Derain and Picasso were of particular importance to Kuprin at that time.

Kuprin was close to Robert Fal’k, Pyotr Konchalovsky, Aristarkh Lentulov, Il’ya Mashkov and Vasily Rozhdestvensky, and he joined the Jack of Diamonds group in 1910, thereby forming a temporary allegiance with its avant-garde leaders Natal’ya Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Kazimir Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin. At this point Kuprin sympathized with their concentration on primitive, indigenous art forms, and his paintings of the following decade, such as ...

Article

(b Moscow, Sept 22, 1859; d Moscow, Dec 6, 1937).

Russian painter and designer. He attended the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1881–90, studying under Vladimir Makovsky, Vasily Polenov and Illarion Pryanishnikov, and joined the Wanderers (Peredvizhniki) in 1891. At first Malyutin supported the traditions of narrative Realism, as is clear from paintings such as Peasant Girl (1890; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), although he quickly developed other interests in the popular arts and crafts, in history painting and in plein-air painting.

Like other Russian artists of his time such as Ivan Bilibin, Nicholas Roerich, the Vasnetsov brothers and Mikhail Vrubel’, Malyutin turned for inspiration to Russian folklore, ancient history and the domestic arts, as in his panoramic Battle of Kulikovo for the Historical Museum in Moscow (1898) and in his invention in 1889 of the matryoshka (Russian stacking doll), which, misleadingly, has now been accepted as an integral part of traditional Russian folk art. In the 1890s he worked at the ...

Article

Sergey Kuznetsov

(b Kutaisi, May 29, 1876; d Tbilisi, March 10, 1951).

Georgian sculptor. He was born into a family of artists: his father was a wood-carver, his brother Vasily a painter. From 1895 he studied at the Odessa school of drawing and first tried his hand at sculpture in 1896. The sculptor Georgy Gabashvili gave him encouragement, and shortly afterwards Nikoladze went to Paris, where he studied under Antonin Mercié, among others. In 1904 he was again in Paris where he switched from working in plaster to sculpting in stone and marble under the guidance of Emile-Antoine Bourdelle and Charles Despiau. The bronze Unemployed (1906; Sydney, priv. col.) was influenced by Rodin’s Burghers of Calais (1895; Calais, outside Hôtel de Ville). Nikoladze returned to Tbilisi a staunch supporter of Neo-classicism. Widespread recognition came as a result of his bronze monument to the poet I. Chavchavadze, Grieving Motherland (1910–12; Tbilisi, Mtatsminda Hill, pantheon of Georgian public figures), which portrays the figure of a woman under an ancient portal. The work is impressionistically vibrant yet precise and solid. Following this success, he was commissioned to represent numerous Georgian personages, past and present, including ...

Article

Russian, 19th – 20th century, male.

Painter.

Socialist Realism.

St Petersburg (Mus. of the History of the Revolutionary Movement in 1880-1890): Lenin

Article

Sergey Kuznetsov

[Yehuda; Iyeguda] (Moiseyevich)

(b Novo-Aleksandrovsk, Kovenskaya province, ?1854; d Vitebsk [now Viciebsk], Feb 28, 1937).

Belarusian painter. After studying under Boris Gershovich and then under Pavel Chistyakov (1832–1919) at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts (1882–5), he founded his own art school in Viciebsk, where his pupils included Marc Chagall and Solomon Yudovin. The school paved the way for the intense artistic activity in Viciebsk in 1918–22, although Pen himself did not welcome the extreme avant-garde. The Unovis group founded by Kazimir Malevich left no room for Pen’s art, but he continued to teach nevertheless. Few of Pen’s works have survived; most of the 700 works that he gave to the Belarusian government and that were housed in the Yury Pen Museum in Viciebsk until World War II have been lost. Those works that have survived often reveal the artist’s desire to capture his surroundings, as in Old Soldier (Minsk, Belarus’. A. Mus.). His smaller paintings, such as Jewish Rabbi (untraced), the naive style of which resembles the works of Henri Rousseau and Niko Pirosmanashvili, bring together people, objects and nature. Pen considered realism the only possible means of expression in painting. Therefore, after he produced works with new titles in the 1920s, such as ...

Article

(Mikhaylovich)

(b St Petersburg, 1906; d Moscow, 1965).

Soviet architect. He was one of the most prolific architects working in the monumental style of Socialist Realism promoted by Joseph Stalin. He studied at the Leningrad Art-Technical Institute under Ivan Fomin, and he then assisted Vladimir Shchuko in his competition entry (1933) for the Palace of the Soviets, Moscow, a fantastic confection in a neo-Byzantine style. His own work at the time was more restrained; for example, a block of flats (1933–5), 45 Arbat, Moscow, was severely rectilinear, having a two-storey base of engaged columns with shops behind, and four storeys of flats in rusticated stone. Polyakov’s main gate for the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (1939), Moscow (later Exhibition of Economic Achievement of the USSR), is a highly abstract monumental arch in a stripped classical manner and with heroic reliefs, reminiscent of Shchuko’s Lenin Library (1928), Moscow. The current main gate (...

Article

Radomíra Sedláková

(b Prague, Aug 24, 1923; d 2001).

Czech architect. He graduated in architecture from the Czech Technical University, Prague, in 1949, beginning his career during the period of Socialist Realism. He then began to use new materials and structural elements; for example, his Institute of Macromolecular Chemistry (1963), Prague, introduced a light curtain wall and a typical plan (low and wide entrance hall, with conference rooms, halls and restaurant, and high-rise office building) that was subsequently widely adopted by architects in Czechoslovakia. Other examples of his innovative structural designs include the use of Vierendeel bridge trusses in his extension (1966–71) to the Federal Assembly building in Prague and the use of a heavy glass wall for acoustic purposes in the new auditorium (1983; with Stanislav Libenský) at the National Theatre in Prague. In 1990–92 he designed the reconstruction of the House of Artists in Prague, and in 1993–4 he designed the reconstruction of the Cubist House at Black Madonna in Prague....

Article

Catherine Cooke

(Viktorovich)

(b Kishinyov [now Chişinău], Moldova, Sept 26, 1873; d Moscow, May 24, 1949).

Russian architect, urban planner and restorer, of Moldovan birth. Although by nature a historicist, to whom undecorated Modernism was a response to poverty rather than an aim in itself, he came to occupy a central position in the formative years of Soviet Modernist architecture during the 1920s. His own best works, however, date in general from the periods before the Revolution of 1917 and after 1930, when public architectural tastes were closer to his own.

His father was a minor official in Russian provincial administration in Kishinyov. Orphaned while still at school, but a highly talented draughtsman, Shchusev went to St Petersburg and entered the Academy of Arts in 1891 studying, after the reforms of 1894, in the studio of Leonty Benois. His diploma project of 1897 won him the Academy’s gold medal and a 16-month trip to Europe in 1898–9. On his return he worked for Benois until receiving his own first significant commission in ...

Article

Russian, 20th century, male.

Born 1927; died 1989.

Painter. Nudes, scenes with figures.

Socialist Realism.

Vladimir Skriabin was an academic, post-impressionist painter. He studied under Boris Ioganson at the Repin Institute in Leningrad (now St Petersburg) and was a member of the USSR Artists Union and a People's Artist. He exhibited both at home and abroad after ...

Article

David Elliott and Piotr Juszkiewicz

[Rus. Sotsialisticheskiy Realizm]

Term used to describe the idealization of the dictatorship of the proletariat in the arts, apparently first used in the Soviet journal Literaturnaya Gazeta on 25 May 1932. After the cultural pluralism of the 1920s in the Soviet Union, and in line with the objectives of the Five-year plans, art was subordinated to the needs and dictates of the Communist Party. In 1932, following four years of ideological struggle and polemic among different artistic groups, the Central Committee of the party disbanded all existing artistic organizations and set up in their place party-led unions for individual art forms. In the summer of 1934, at the First All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers, Socialist Realism was proclaimed the approved method for Soviet artists in all media. Andrey Zhdanov, who gave the keynote address at the Congress, was Stalin’s mouthpiece on cultural policy until his death in 1948. In the words of his leader, the artist was to be ‘an engineer of the human soul’. The aim of the new creative method was ‘to depict reality in its revolutionary development’; no further guidelines concerning style or subject-matter were laid down. Accordingly, the idea of what constituted Socialist Realism evolved negatively out of a series of cultural purges orchestrated by Zhdanov in the pages of ...

Article

Yekaterina Andreyeva

[Sotz art]

Term used from 1972 to describe a style of unofficial art that flourished in the USSR from c. 1970 to c. 1985–8. The term itself is formed from the first syllable of Sotsialisticheskiy realizm (Rus.: ‘Socialist Realism’) and the second word of Pop art and is attributed to the art historian Vladimir Paperny. Sots art takes the style of Socialist Realism, with its mass ideological implications, as a legitimate object of investigation, intending to deconstruct the ideological system through its own visual language. It forms a criticism of Socialist Realism by unofficial Russian artists as reflecting the ideological myths underpinning Soviet society. The means of ideological propaganda are thus investigated in terms of their relation to the national mentality and their consumption as objects of mass culture. The main artists producing works of this type were Komar and Melamid, Erik Bulatov (e.g. Horizon, 1971–2; Paris, priv. col.), and, since the mid-1970s, ...

Article

Russian, 20th century, male.

Born 1900, in Ramushevo (Novgorod).

Sculptor.

Nikolai Vasilevich Tomski studied at the Leningrad Vkhutein. He was a sculptor of the Socialist Realist school, and one of his more spectacular works was the 60 feet (18 metre) high Lenin Memorial in Berlin (...

Article

Stephan von Wiese

(b Mecklenburg, March 13, 1930).

German sculptor and stage designer. He studied painting at the Kunstakademie in Berlin-Weissensse (1949–53), working first in the style of Socialist Realism. During his period at the Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf he undertook self-imposed repetitive exercises such as archery, and he modelled his first relief-form paintings by hand. In 1957 he made his first relief structures with nails leading to works such as White Picture (nails on canvas on wood, 1959; Krefeld, Kaiser-Wilhelm Mus.). He also incorporated corks (e.g. Cork Picture Light Medium, 1960; Düsseldorf, Kstmus.) and cardboard tubes set into the surface of the painting. The nailed picture became the antithesis of the painted picture; it allowed Uecker to explore the articulation of light through the shadows created by the nails, the unchanging ritual of hammering and the violation of taboo surfaces. In 1958 he began to work on circular nail formations, leading in 1961 to his rotating nailed illuminated discs....

Article

Lithuanian, 19th – 20th century, male.

Born 10 January 1869, in Vilnius; died 1947, in Leningrad (now St Petersburg).

Painter. History painting.

Socialist Realism.

Ivan Vladimirov studied at the fine art academy in St Petersburg.

His work was represented in 2003 at the collective exhibition Dream Factory Communism, the Visual Culture of the Stalin Period...

Article

Russian, 20th century, male.

Born 1875, in Moscow; died 1958, in Moscow.

Painter, graphic artist, designer. Local scenes, landscapes. Stage sets.

Symbolism, Socialist Realism.

Groups: Peredvizhniki (Wanderers), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR).

Konstantin Fedorovich Yuon studied under Abram Arkhipov, Konstantin Korovin, and Konstantin Savitsky at the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture from 1892 to 1898 and in the studio of Valentin A. Serov from 1898 to 1900. He then went travelling to Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, and on his return taught in his own studio in Moscow from 1900 to 1917. He taught at the USSR Academy of Art (1934–1935) and the Moscow Art Institute (1952–1955)....