Soviet Art

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Category Archive: Sculpture

Soviet wood artist Valery Vasilievich Zhigaltsev 1949-1994

Soviet wood artist Valery Vasilievich Zhigaltsev (24 March 1949 - 1994)

“Curious neighbor”, wood painting. Soviet wood artist Valery Vasilievich Zhigaltsev (24 March 1949 – 1994)

Soviet wood artist Valery Vasilievich Zhigaltsev

The wood has always been marble and granite of Russia. And the closer to the north, the more sonorous, softer and more mysterious it became. But as in old good time, today you have to be a master to see a fairy-tale buffoon in a log and, in worthless little chips, a round dance of charming young girls. And not only skill is necessary, not only talent, there is a need for a soul, consonant with the living and warm spirit of wood, credulity to it. Such a master was Valery Zhigaltsev who worked in Kirov. According to Zhigaltsev, his teachers became wonderful Dymkovo masters and old turners, with their rough hands making out the thinnest musical boxes with numerous secrets.
In fact, the heart of the artist’s works lies the style of Russian lubok (folk pictures). Zhigaltsev developed various themes in the toy: folk festivals, the history of transport, Russian proverbs and sayings, and others. All the artist’s works are imbued with subtle humor and kindness.
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Soviet sculptor Vasily Alekseevich Vatagin 1883-1969

Soviet sculptor Vasily Alekseevich Vatagin (1883-1969)

Penguin with baby. 1960 Wood sculpture. The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Work by Soviet sculptor Vasily Alekseevich Vatagin (1883-1969)

Soviet sculptor Vasily Alekseevich Vatagin

Born in Moscow in 1883, Vasily Alekseevich Vatagin – Russian animal painter, sculptor and scientist-zoologist. The founder of the Darwin Museum, Alexander Fedorovich Kotts, was one of the first to draw attention to the talent of the young artist. Practically from the very foundation of the museum in 1907, the collaboration of the painter and sculptor V.A. Vatagin and director of the museum A. F. Kotts began. Vatagin, rightfully considered co-founder of the Darwin Museum has created more than 400 paintings, as well as about 100 sculptural works for 40 years of work.
Since childhood he was fond of drawing, and aged 15 he attended the studio of watercolor artist NA Martynov. In 1902, Vasily entered the natural department of the Physics and Mathematics Faculty of Moscow University. Also, he studied at the studio of the painter K. Yuon.
After graduating from the university, the artist made several trips to the zoological gardens of Western Europe, visited Central Asia, India, and northern Russia. There he performed a large number of sketches of animals and birds, which later became indispensable helpers in various works. Among them – zoological illustration, easel painting, book illustration and sculpture.
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Soviet sculptor Adelaida Germanovna Pologova 1923-2008

Go and save my trail. 1987. Soviet sculptor Adelaida Germanovna Pologova

Go and save my trail. 1987. Wood, gesso, gilding, painting, State Tretyakov Gallery. Soviet sculptor Adelaida Germanovna Pologova (1923-2008)

Soviet sculptor Adelaida Germanovna Pologova

Laureate of the USSR State Prize (1989), Adelaida Pologova belonged to a pleiad of sculptors of the 1960s, who ignored the traditional canons, giving an original view of the world. Her work – the creativity of a free and extremely original thinking sculptor. The peak of Adelaide Pologova’s creativity was in the 1980s, when she created, according to Soviet artist Dmitry Zhilinsky, “the finest sculpture of our time” – “Go and save my trail”. This is a masterpiece of the sculptor, which later gave the title of one of her posthumous exhibitions.
Her professional education A.G.Pologova began in 1942 in her native city of Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg). She grew up in a creative family where her father worked as an artist-decorator at the State Opera Theater named after A.V. Lunacharsky (1923-1925). The echo of the very early children’s theatrical impressions will later appear in the structure of many works by Pologova.
Having graduated from the faculty of painting of the local art school in 1948, she entered the Moscow Institute of Applied and Decorative Art (MIPiDI). In 1952 Pologova entered the Leningrad Higher School of Art and Industry named after V.I. Mukhina (LVHPU). She graduated from the institute in 1955 on the specialty of “architectural and decorative sculpture”. Born the same year her son Alyosha became a hero of her works for life.

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Soviet sculpture socialist sacred traditions

Soviet sculpture socialist sacred traditions. Lenin and Stalin. 1945. Sculptor A. Topchiev

Lenin and Stalin. 1945. Sculptor A. Topchiev. Soviet sculpture socialist sacred traditions

Soviet sculpture socialist sacred traditions
Monumental art, and in particular sculpture, was a chronicle of the life of Soviet peoples, and the affirmation of the ideals of communist society. The desire of Soviet artists to always be together with the people, to express its thoughts and hopes, to be side by side in the struggle became one of the sacred traditions of socialist culture.
Accordingly, monumental and decorative art was a means of forming the spiritual climate of socialist cities and villages, a weapon of monumental propaganda, and not just a way to organize a material and spatial environment. The works of sculptors embodied high social ideals, educating millions of people. Also, images of heroes and events, which forever preserve the people’s memory, were imprinted.
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Soviet sculptures high spiritual pathos

Soviet sculptures high spiritual pathos. V.B. Pinchuk. Lenin in Razliv. Bronze. 1935

V.B. Pinchuk. Lenin in Razliv. Bronze. 1935. Soviet sculptures high spiritual pathos

Soviet sculptures high spiritual pathos
Traditionally, the art of sculpture in the USSR had a special socio-political significance. In fact, the formation of Soviet sculpture was inseparable from the Leninist plan of monumental propaganda. In particular, the first revolutionary monuments and commemorative plaques were created on its basis, and later many significant works of monumental sculpture. However, at first central to the sculpture was the theme of the revolution, the image of a participant in revolutionary events, the builder of socialism. Accordingly – during the Great Patriotic War – the image of the hero, the winner. And already in the post-war years in the easel sculpture a great place took the worker and collective farmer. Besides, animalistic sculpture, and sculpture of small forms was developing.
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Soviet Russian ceramic artist Mikhail Kopylkov

Decorative figure. The gardener. 1975. Chamotte, salt, glaze. Directorate of exhibitions of the Union of Artists of the USSR. Soviet Russian ceramic artist Mikhail Kopylkov

Detail of Decorative figure. The gardener. 1975. Chamotte, salt, glaze. Directorate of exhibitions of the Union of Artists of the USSR. Soviet Russian ceramic artist Mikhail Kopylkov

Soviet Russian ceramic artist Mikhail Kopylkov
Born in 1946 in Leningrad, Mikhail Kopylkov graduated from Leningrad Higher Art and Industrial School named after Vera Mukhina (1969). He joined the USSR Union of Artists in 1975.
Annual exhibitions “One Composition” were of great importance for the history of Soviet Leningrad ceramics, the first of which took place in 1977. According to the charter, the artist could put out only one work, which he chooses himself. A month later, a large exposition “Ceramics of Leningrad” became the first serious review of Leningrad ceramics in the last five years. Criticism rated it as one of the most interesting phenomena in decorative art. The notion of “school of Leningrad ceramics” appeared.
Meanwhile, since the beginning of the 1970s, a group of young artists-ceramists, graduates of the Leningrad Higher Art and Industrial School has been actively working in the city on the Neva. In particular, A. Zadorin, N. Savinova, V. Gorislavtsev, V. Tsyvin, L. Solodkov, N. Gushchina, O. Nekrasov-Karateeva and others. Among them one of the brightest figures was Mikhail Kopylkov.
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Soviet Lithuanian sculptor Yuozas Mikenas 1901-1964

Peace. Gypsum. 1960. Moscow, pavilion of the Lithuanian SSR at VDNKh. Soviet Lithuanian sculptor Yuozas Mikenas 1901-1964

Peace. Gypsum. 1960. Moscow, pavilion of the Lithuanian SSR at VDNKh. Soviet Lithuanian sculptor Yuozas Mikenas (1901-1964)

Soviet Lithuanian sculptor Yuozas Mikenas
A beautiful young woman with a smooth, broad gesture holds out the dove of peace to people. Beautifully, severely and gently is her face, the simple open face of a Lithuanian peasant woman, with a proud profile and severely curved eyebrows. The wind throws a thick wave of hair. A light dress encircles a strong body. She holds the child with a gentle movement of the hand. This sculpture has different names – “Peace”, “Mother”, and “Lithuania”. Its author is Yuozas Mikenas.
The path of Juozas Mikenas to art was difficult and complex, the same difficult and complex as the whole life of the artist in bourgeois Lithuania was.
Born February 12, 1901, he grew up in that stern, miserly and beautiful land, on the very border with Latvia, in the peasant family. Childhood remained in his memory with the few clear pictures that made up the world of a peasant boy. It was work in the field, the simple duties of a small shepherd, rural evenings with their clear silence, warm earth under bare feet and the most fascinating fishing in the world. The only city he knew was Aknist: about three hundred residents, two or three shops, a pharmacy, and a church. There he and his brother went to school every day – six kilometers on foot.
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