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Article

V. Rakitin

(Izrailevich)

(b Sofiyevka, nr Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, Jan 6, 1884; d Leningrad [now St Petersburg], Aug 14, 1939).

Russian painter, graphic artist and collector, of Ukrainian birth. He studied at the School of Art in Odessa (1896–1902) under Kiriak Kostandi (1852–1921) and at the Academy of Arts in St Petersburg (1902–8) under Il’ya Repin, who remained an important influence throughout his life. During the revolutionary years 1905 to 1907 Brodsky became famous as a political caricaturist and for his painting Red Funeral: The Funeral of the Victims of the Armed Attack on the Peaceful Demonstration in St Petersburg on 9 Jan 1905 (1906; St Petersburg, Acad. A., Mus.). From 1909 to 1911 he worked in Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Austria on a scholarship from the Academy. Brodsky’s landscapes and portraits of the period are generally traditional and academic in style.

In 1917 Brodsky drew a series of portraits of the members of the Provisional Government and in 1919 received first prize in the ‘Great Russian Revolution’ competition for his painting ...

Article

Bélgica Rodríguez

(b Caracas, Aug 17, 1923).

Venezuelan painter and kinetic artist. He studied in 1940 and 1941 at the Escuela de Artes Plásticas y Aplicadas in Caracas, producing Socialist Realist paintings while working as art director to the McCann Erickson advertising agency in Venezuela, where he became interested in the effect of colour in advertising. In 1955–6 he visited Paris and Barcelona, where his interest was aroused by theories of geometric abstraction, scientific colour theory and Bauhaus ideas on the integration of the arts and crafts. On returning to Caracas he opened the Estudio de Artes Visuales, where he began to investigate the role of colour in kinetic art. Cruz-Diez’s wide experience in advertising, industrial applications of colour, cinema and photographic and photo-mechanical processes, together with his study of work by Georges Seurat and Josef Albers and of Edwin Land’s (b 1909) scientific ideas on colour perception, led him to produce such constructions as the ...

Article

David Elliott

(Aleksandrovich)

(b Kursk, May 21, 1899; d Moscow, June 5, 1969).

Russian painter, graphic artist and designer. He studied at the Khar’kov Art School (1915–17), breaking off his studies to join the Red Army. By 1919 he had returned to Kursk, where he was designing the stencilled propaganda ROSTA posters that spread throughout the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic following Mayakovsky’s original examples (see Agitprop). In 1921 he moved to Moscow and studied under Vladimir Favorsky at Vkhutemas (the Higher Artistic and Technical Workshops) until 1925. While still a student he worked on illustrations and designs for a number of new magazines such as Bezbozhnik (‘The Atheist’) or Prozhektor (‘Searchlight’).

In the mid-1920s Deyneka started to make easel paintings and became a leading member of the Society of Easel Painters (OST), which reflected advanced tendencies in representational painting rather than the literalism of the Wanderers. His major paintings of the period are The Defence of Petrograd (...

Article

Ewa Mikina

(b Warsaw, Nov 15, 1922).

Polish painter and poster designer. He studied at the private studios of Tadeusz Pruszkowski (1888–1942) and Felicjan Kowarski in Warsaw between 1940 and 1942. From 1966 he lived in the USA. In 1949 Fangor exhibited his early portraits of Lenin and Einstein, among others. They were garish in colour and intentionally primitivist and brutalist in form. The Socialist Realist works from between 1950 and 1955 (e.g. Bricklayers, 1950, and Korean Mother, 1951) are monumental academic, programmatic paintings of a propagandist, poster-style character, occasionally featuring ambiguity and irony, as in Figures (1950). Fangor gained popularity as a poster designer, and when Socialist Realism went into decline he switched from programmatic simplifications to experimental simplicity (e.g. the street decorations for the 5th International Festival of Youth, Warsaw, 1955).

Fangor achieved fame in 1958 with the Warsaw exhibition Studium Przestrzeni (‘Study of Space’), in which he presented an environment operating on the principle of the after-image. He produced spatially interdependent abstract canvases and explored a temporal sequence of colour perception. This was further developed in the ...

Article

V. Rakitin

(Mikhaylovich)

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

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.

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. ...

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

Anna Bentkowska

(b Olesko, nr Lwów [now L’viv, Ukraine], Sept 12, 1920; d Warsaw, Sept 25, 1972).

Polish painter, theatre designer and architect. He began his artistic education by taking lessons in sculpture and painting; he then trained as an architect at the Polytechnics of Lwów (1939–41) and Gdańsk (1945–6). He briefly studied painting as a student of Eugeniusz Eibisch in Kraków (1945). Constantly searching for new forms of expression, he explored various disciplines and techniques and, throughout his career, moved from one style to another. His first paintings were influenced by Eibisch’s colourism. In this post-war period he also worked on various architectural, sculptural and theatrical designs, such as the statue of the poet Adam Mickiewicz (1947; unexecuted) and the pavilion for the Agricultural Exhibition, Czȩstochowa (1949). He soon followed the newly imposed style of Socialist Realism, becoming one of its leading figures with works such as Pass Me a Brick (1950; Wrocław, N. Mus.). Unhindered by ideological restrictions, his series of sketches from Vietnam (...

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

M. N. Sokolov

(Ivanovich)

(b Rostov-on-Don, May 29, 1910; d Moscow, March 15, 1972).

Russian painter. He studied at the Leningrad Academy of Arts (1932–8) under Isaak Brodsky, and his style developed under the influence of Brodsky and of 17th-century Baroque painting with its illusory effects. He was an expert on old painting techniques, and he became one of the best-known representatives of the retrospective trend in Socialist Realism, combining modern subjects with detailed rendering of the texture of objects in the spirit of the Old Masters.

Many of Laktionov’s works have a propagandist veneer, for example Into the New Flat (1952; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), in which the central detail is a portrait of Stalin as the creator of happy changes in the life of the family receiving the new flat. Other works are extremely pompous, even kitschy, with an overworked, superficial attractiveness, as in Secure Old Age (1958–60; Kiev, Mus. Rus. & Sov. A. & Prod. Complex), a group portrait of veterans of Soviet theatre. In his most successful works, however, he achieved an impressive lyricism, as in ...

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

[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

M. N. Sokolov

(Arkad’yevich)

(b Prislonikha, Ul’yanovsk region, Jan 30, 1893; d Prislonikha, May 12, 1972).

Russian painter. He was from a peasant family, and he studied in Moscow, at the Stroganov School (1912–14) and also at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1914–17). The late Impressionist painting of members of the Union of Russian Artists, in particular Abram Arkhipov and Konstantin Korovin, as well as the lyrical, rich colourism of Sergey Gerasimov, had the greatest effect on Plastov. At first he worked mainly in posters and book illustration. He continued to produce book illustrations (e.g. to Lev Tolstoy’s story Kholstomer, ‘The canvas measurer’, watercolour and gouache, 1952–4; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), but he achieved success mostly as a painter. His first significant painting is the Collective Farm Holiday (1937; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.), executed in the official Socialist Realist style of the 1930s. Yet the spirited, strikingly emotional style of painting and the liveliness of the national types compensate to a considerable extent for its propagandist content....

Article

M. N. Sokolov

(Vasil’yevna)

(b St Petersburg, Feb 25, 1891; d Moscow, June 16, 1955).

Russian painter. She trained under Dmitry Kardovsky at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts (1912–18 and 1921–3). From 1923 she lived and worked in Moscow, and she was a member of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR) from 1924. Typical of her early works is a detailed representation of everyday life in the spirit of the late work of the Wanderers, as in the painting In the Artist’s Studio (1927; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.). The dynamic element in her compositions gradually strengthened and she began to use sharp spatial shifts and abrupt foreshortening to express the emotional aspects of the social transformations in Russia. Her best-known painting, Ever Upwards! (Vsyo vyshe!; 1934; Kiev, Mus. Rus. A.), depicts a young man and woman, both riggers, climbing an electricity pylon; they are represented as the youthful spirits of love and labour. It became, along with Vera Mukhina’s sculpture ...

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

Éva Bajkay

(b Temes-Mehala, nr Timişoara, March 8, 1887; d Budapest, Jan 26, 1972).

Hungarian painter, draughtsman and writer, active in Russia. He registered at the School of Crafts and Design, Budapest, in 1907, and went on to attend the Academy of Fine Arts (1908–12). In 1914 he showed his loosely executed drawings at the third Young Artists exhibition, and in the same year travelled to Italy. In 1915 he joined the Activists, the avant-garde artists grouped around his brother-in-law Lajos Kassák. Uitz’s expressive ink drawings appeared in the Activist periodical A Tett (‘The Act’, 1915). In April 1916 he took part in an exhibition at the National Salon in Budapest of work by The Young (Fiatalok) and the Seven (Hetek). He spent summer 1916 at the Kecskemét colony, where his painting became richer in colour. It was here that he painted Apple Pickers (1916; Budapest, N.G.), his first significant oil painting, influenced by Hungarian followers of Cézanne. In 1917...

Article

M. N. Sokolov

( Nikolayevich )

(b Skobelev [now Fergana], Aug 19, 1886; d Tashkent, Dec 17, 1957).

Russian painter and draughtsman, active in Uzbekistan. He trained at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts (1908–10) under Vladimir Makovsky and at the Kiev Art School (1912–16) under Fyodor Krichevsky (1879–1947), then moved to Tashkent. Characteristic of Volkov’s early work are Art Nouveau features, as in Persian Woman (Moscow, Mus. Orient. A.). The influence of Cubism is combined with the ornamental flatness of Central Asian art in the Eastern Primitive series (1918–20; Moscow, Mus. Orient. A. and artist’s family’s col.). His monumental generalization of form and powerful colour harmonies, at times transformed into semi-abstract, futuristic rhythms, as in Caravan I (1922–3; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), attained a special symbolic significance in the Pomegranate Teahouse (1924; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), the artist’s best-known work. In Volkov’s hands scenes of rural labour typical of Socialist Realism (e.g. Girls with Cotton, 1932; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.) achieve a dignity comparable to that of the Mexican muralists. In later years Volkov’s work became more intimate, while retaining its power of expression and freshness of colour, as in ...

Article

Wojciech Włodarczyk

(b Wilno [now Vilnius, Lithuania], June 15, 1927; d Zakopane, March 23, 1957).

Polish painter and writer . He produced his first paintings under the supervision of his mother, the graphic artist Krystyna Wróblewska (b 1904). In 1945–52 he studied painting at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków, in the studios of Zygmunt Radnicki (b 1894), Zbigniew Pronaszko, Hanna Rudzka-Cybisowa (b 1897) and Jerzy Fedkowicz (b 1891). At the same time he studied the history of art and became involved in art criticism, publishing his exhibition reviews and polemical articles in cultural journals. From 1950, Wróblewski worked at the Academy of Fine Arts, Kraków. He exhibited from 1946 at exhibitions significant for contemporary Polish art, including the exhibition Sztuki nowoczesnej (‘Modern art’; Kraków, Pal. A., 1948) and the Wystawa młodej plastyki (‘Young plastic arts exhibition’) at the Arsenal, Warsaw (1955). Although during the 1940s Wróblewski produced only abstract compositions, he had a strong tendency towards realism, using a simple, but often ambiguous style. In ...

Article

Sergey Kuznetsov

[ Zhmuydzinavichyus, Antanas ( Ionasovich )]

(b Seiriai, Seinai region, Oct 31, 1876; d Kaunas, Aug 9, 1966).

Lithuanian painter, administrator and writer. He qualified as a drawing teacher at the St Petersburg Academy of Arts and taught at the Warsaw Commercial College (1899–1905) while continuing his studies. He also studied in Paris (from 1905), Munich (1908–9) and Hamburg (1912). During a short stay in Vilnius in 1906–7 he became close to Petras Rimša and Mikalojus Čiurlionis, founding the Lithuanian Art Society, which combined two trends in Lithuanian art: realist (Žmuidzinavičius, Petras Kalpokas, Rimša) and Symbolist (Čiurlionis). He was the initiator of the first Lithuanian Art Exhibition, held in Vilnius in 1907, at which he showed 35 paintings, among them Peasant Kitchen (1905; Kaunas, A. Žmuidzinavičius Mem. Mus.). During these years Žmuidzinavičius was influenced by the work of the Symbolists, as evident in Horseman (1910–12; Kaunas, A. Žmuidzinavičius Mem. Mus.). His essays on art were published in periodicals and newspapers in Vilnius, Kaunas and Warsaw in the first two decades of the 20th century. He maintained contact with Lithuanian emigrés in the USA, which he visited in ...