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Gerasimov, Aleksandr (Mikhaylovich)locked

(b Kozlov [now Michurinsk, Tambov region], Aug 12, 1881; d Moscow, July 23, 1963).
  • V. Rakitin

Russian painter, stage designer and administrator. He studied at the School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Moscow (1903–15) under Abram Arkhipov, Nikolay Kasatkin and Korovin family, §2, among others. At the School he emerged as a leader of a group of traditionalists who contended with the avant-garde led by Mikhail Larionov. After service in the army he returned to Kozlov, where he worked as a stage designer and decorated the town for revolutionary festivities. In 1925 he moved to Moscow, where he was a member of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. The style Gerasimov was using by the mid-1920s in his landscapes and portraits, which was a combination of academic realism and Impressionism, remained practically unchanged throughout his life.

Aleksandr Gerasimov: Lenin on the Tribune, oil on canvas, 1930 (Moscow, Tret’yakov Gallery); © Estate of Sergei Gerasimov/RAO, Moscow/VAGA, NY,, photo © Scala/Art Resource, NY

Gerasimov’s work is significant as representative of a solemn ‘heroic realism’ (e.g. Lenin on the Tribune, 1929–30; Moscow, Cent. Lenin Mus.), later considered a paradigm of Socialist Realism. He painted a series of pompous official portraits of Soviet leaders (e.g. I. V. Stalin and K. Ye. Voroshilov in the Kremlin (1938; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.) but, still feeling himself a pupil of Korovin, tried to express a more lyrical and personal mood in landscapes (e.g. Summer Rain at Noon, 1939; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.), the group portrait of the painters I. N. Pavlov, V. N. Meshkov, V. K. Byalynitsky-Birulya and V. N. Baksheyev (1944; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), numerous other portraits, such as that of the ballerina O. V. Lepeshinskaya (1939; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), and in his stage designs.

Gerasimov had a stormy career in arts administration, often exercising totalitarian control. He was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Union of Artists of the USSR (1939–54) and President of the Academy of Art (1947–57) when cultural repression was at its strongest. As a representative of official policy he campaigned against ‘cosmopolitanism’ and ‘formalism’ in the late 1940s and he played a major role in the closure of the Museum of Modern Western Art in Moscow.


  • Zhizn’ khudozhnika [An artist’s life] (Moscow, 1963)


  • A. K. Lebedev: A. M. Gerasimov (Moscow, 1938)
  • M. P. Sokol’nikov: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo A. M. Gerasimova [The life and work of A. M. Gerasimov] (Moscow, 1951)
  • M. P. Sokol’nikov: A. M. Gerasimov (Moscow, 1954)
  • I. M. Blyanova: Aleksandr Gerasimov (Moscow, 1988)