Soviet Art

USSR Culture

Soviet artist Boris Mikhailovich Nemensky

Mother. 1945. The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Soviet artist Boris Mikhailovich Nemensky

Mother. 1945. The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Soviet artist Boris Mikhailovich Nemensky (b. 1922)

Paintings by Soviet artist Boris Mikhailovich Nemensky (b. 1922) many times became a phenomenon, of not only artistic, but also social life, the subject of a very heated debate. Faith in humanity, in its beauty and indestructibility, the artist’s belief in the power of the human principle, to be fought not only among inhuman trials of war, but today – this is perhaps the most important characteristic of his work. “B. Nemensky has already become a classic at twenty-two years old when he created his famous picture “Mother”, – said the famous Soviet poet Konstantin Simonov. Boris Nemensky is known as a painter of easel painting with complex and dramatic content, and at the same time as very lyrical artist with a bright and vibrant view of the world. As an academician, a member of the Academy of Education and the Academy of Arts of the USSR and Russia, People’s Artist of the RSFSR, laureate of Stalin and State prizes, he remains the same, not going to compromise, original master.

House of Aunt Sonya. 1948

House of Aunt Sonya. 1948. Painting by Soviet artist Boris Mikhailovich Nemensky

Boris Nemensky was born in the heart of Moscow, at Sretenka, old and quiet street, that for a long time retains the features of a traditional way of Moscow in all the vicissitudes of a difficult time. His mother Vera Parusnikova was the daughter of a priest, honorary citizen of Odintsovo, the Moscow Region. Her father was what is called, with the character, but his daughter was desperate, ran away from home for resisting undesired wedding, aged sixteen. She sang in the church choir. Soon, she went to study at the dental course, and fell in love with her classmate’s brother – Nemensky. In the early 1910s, he was arrested and sentenced to exile. Then Vera managed to achieve a special permit to get married in the prison church to go into exile together. They were able to return to Moscow only after the February revolution.

Young Boris attended art studio in the local Palace of Pioneers. His first art teacher was enthusiastic and talented young watercolorist AM Mikhailov, he began the way of many future famous artists: A. Vasnetsov, V. Sidorov, B. Talberg, A. Dubinchik, L. Berlin and others. Mikhailov invited famous artists to his lessons, and even, it was the first time, organized the exhibition in the State Tretyakov Gallery! It remained the exciting event in the souls of the young artists.

Boris’ parents supported the hobby of their son, and he entered the Art School in memory of 1905, and at once – the third year. A year later, the war broke out. In connection with the evacuation of his father’s place of work (Gosplan), the family moved to Saratov. In autumn 1942 Boris graduated from Saratov Art College, where it was transferred from Moscow, and as a gifted student has acquired the right to study in the Surikov Institute, that was then evacuated to Central Asia. But Boris went to Moscow to go to the front. Here in Moscow, soldier Boris Nemensky was sent to serve in the Military Artists Studio of Grekov.

Front became his main universities: the school of life and school of art. In the studio Boris Nemensky was the most junior in age and rank, and, of course, experience. Military artists made drawings and sketches directly from nature in areas of fighting, at the forefront of the war – reporting from the theater of operations. There was not a large military operation, in which artists of Grekov studio did not participate. And then, their front-line drawings coontinued their exhibition path.

Victorious Spring of 1945 was his personal creative victory as well. Boris Nemensky made a picture “Mother” (1945). And it was a great success. Painting of an unknown twenty-two year-old artist was not lost on the big All-Union Exhibition, viewers noticed it, it touched all – the critics and the audience.

It was not easy for Boris Nemensky to go back to study after a harsh school of war, after the success of the first picture. Encouraged as always, his Mom, she took a word from her son to graduate from the institute, despite the overcrowding designs and a natural desire for creative freedom. And through the years, Boris remembers it with gratitude.

The State Tretyakov Gallery, illustrated album, 1986
Boris Nemensky, illustrated album, 2001
Soviet Artist magazine

Soviet artist Boris Mikhailovich Nemensky