As a favorite artist of Stalin, Alexander Gerasimov secretly painted pictures in the genre of “nude”
The name of the legendary artist Alexander Gerasimov, who lived and worked at a time when socialist realism dominated art, and to this day has caused heated debates among critics and art critics. Many consider him a court artist, who wrote in favor of the government, in which there is a significant element of truth. But there are facts with which you can not argue … In essence, the Impressionist Gerasimov remained a subtle painter throughout his life, excellently writing still lifes, flowers, lyrical sketches, and also pictures in the style of “nude”.
Indeed, Alexander Mikhailovich gained particular popularity and fame as a portrait painter at the dawn of Soviet power. In those years, he created a huge number of portraits of the leaders of the revolution and their comrades. For which he was awarded both titles, and Stalin Prizes, and leadership positions. And according to his hands, the ruling power took the most severe measures against artists who deviated from the direction of social realism in art.
And so it all began …
Alexander Gerasimov (1881-1963) hails from the town of Kozlov, Tambov Gubernia, from a merchant family. This small town will remain for Alexander not only his native corner of the earth, but also a refuge where the master will run away from the capital to purify his soul, relax and be inspired. There, throughout his life, he will write canvases that will excite him personally, as a person and artist.
Well, back in 1903, a 22-year-old young man, he would leave Kozlov for Moscow, to study painting. His mentors and teachers will be famous painters of the 19th century – Konstantin Korovin, Abram Arkhipov and Valentin Serov.
The start of the First World War crossed out the plans of the future artist. In 1915 he was mobilized to the front and served as a non-combatant soldier for two years on a sanitary train evacuating seriously wounded from the combat zones. The revolution of 1917 – also made its own adjustments in the life of Alexander Gerasimov, he leaves military service and leaves for Kozlov, where he has worked as a decorator for seven years in a local theater.
In 1925 the artist again pulled into the capital. He “is included in the revolutionary painting” and writes the famous posthumous portrait of the leader “Lenin on the podium”. And whether it is necessary to say what a sensation in those years made it to the people who lost their guide. Glory portraitist immediately entrenched for the artist. Although Gerasimov began his career with still-life and landscape sketches. And it should be noted that the artist had an excellent gift to easily reproduce the portrait likeness, while not writing images to the smallest details. With broad impressionistic strokes, he seemed to sculpt them on his canvases, achieving tremendous recognition.
Then came the portraits of Joseph Vissarionovich from the photo, later from life, and over time the artist created the “canonical image of Stalin.” He also painted portraits of the first persons of the state. And for all the merits he was generously favored by the authorities. His political works were widely replicated, bringing fees to the artist. And for those times Gerasimov was a very wealthy man. And it was he who became the first president of the USSR Academy of Arts established in 1947.
Critics unanimously asserted that the portraits of the artist are the standard of Soviet painting and that this is the way to write the leaders of the revolution. And who in those days could argue with that? Everyone considered Gerasimov a favorite portraitist of Comrade Stalin. And not a single political event in the country bypassed the artist; he created a picture after a picture, reflecting its life and historical events.
And in the early 50s, all the same critics began to present the artist in a completely new light: a careerist and a lackey, pleasing the vanity of political figures. After the death of Joseph Stalin, the career ladder of Gerasimov broke down, and with the arrival of Khrushchev he became displeased with the new authorities. And soon the artist is gradually released from all his posts, and his paintings are removed to the storerooms of museums, and some are simply destroyed.
Nevertheless, the work of Alexander Gerasimov turned out to be much wider and more multifaceted than it is accepted to talk about him. And in the history of Russian painting of the Soviet era there are not so many artists who left to descendants a richer and more diverse heritage. However, much of what worked Gerasimov was pushed into the background. It was not very possible for the master of the front portrait to advertise his attachments.