Before the 19th century
Feofan Grek
Andrey Rublev
Zhostovo painting

19th century
Aleksei Venetsianov
Orest Kiprenskiy
Pavel Fedotov
Ivan Aivazovskiy
Grigoriy Soroka
Nikolay Ge
Ivan Shishkin
Ivan Kramskoy
Vasiliy Vereshagin
Vasiliy Polenov
Ilya Repin
Vasiliy Surikov
Victor Vasnetsov
Vilgelm Kotarbinski
Michael Vrubel
Isaak Levitan
Abram Arhipov
Valentin Serov
Leon Bakst
Arhip Kuindzhi
Filipp Malyavin
Konstantin Somov
Victor Borisov-Musatov
Nikolay Rerih
Mstislav Dobuzhinskiy
Ivan Bilibin
Boris Kustodiev

20th century
Konstantin Korovin
Niko Pirosmanishvili
Michael Nesterov
Vasiliy Kandinskiy
Igor Grabar
Petr Konchalovskiy
Kazimir Malevich
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin
Nikolay Feshin
Natalia Goncharova
Michael Larionov
Pavel Filonov
Zinaida Serebryakova
Vladimir Favorsky
Varvara Bubnova
Nikolay Tyrsa
Mark Shagal
Vladimir Konashevich
Aleksander Rodchenko
Vladimir Lebedev
Vera Ermolaeva
Arkadiy Plastov
Pavel Mansurov
Nikolay Suetin
Samuil Adlivankin
Nikolay Kochergin
Aleksander Deineka
Eduard Krimmer
Yuriy Vasnetsov
Aleksei Pahomov
Evgeniy Charushin
Tatiana Mavrina
Vladimir Suteev
Aleksei Laptev
Evgeniy Kibrik
Naum Tseitlin
Oleg Korovin
Leonid Vladimirskyi
Savva Brodskyi
May Miturich
Lev Tokmakov
Gennadiy Mosin
Eric Bulatov & Oleg Vasiliev
Vladimir Pertsov
Victor Pivovarov
Nikolai Ustinov
Vyacheslav Nazaruk

Aleksander Vinokurov
Leonid Shvartsman
Eduard Nazarov
Francheska Yarbusova

Welcome Home, Guys

January 26, 2012

In this issue we dare to speak of art. Not too many words though, but mostly images--to be exact, the paintings of the major Russian artists and illustrators. Anticipating comments like 'Who are you to judge?' we'd like to say that our selection is by default incomplete, subjective, twisted, odd, unmethodical, and controversial. We left out A, and for some reason included B. Moreover, many might find themselves already tired, since art school, of those names and motifs. But they must be known and appreciated anyhow, and kept in mind when trying to decide between the American primitive style and the Japanese linocut.

Young Russian illustrators often appear to lack creative individuality. Why is it that they go looking for inspiration and authority in foreign lands? Well, they might just be plain bored with Russian art curriculum, but there's the very thing they need to develop a unique style, right at their feet. Having seen dozens of portfolios, we can now easily tell where one's style comes from. In most cases, it’s borrowed from Western art, which is hardly competitive on a global scale, unlike icon painting, Gzhe, Russian constructivism, or Cheburashka.

Art before the 19th century, folk and pseudo-folk crafts 
Secular art emerged in Russia in the 17th century, separating itself from icon painting. Local artists, hardly known, were just beginning to catch up with the European portrait, and some later landscape painting. By that time, religious art had already seen the geniuses of Theophanes the Greek and Andrei Rublev. Folk artistic crafts gave rise to a number of major styles. In the middle of the 20th century a team of fine artists in collaboration with an old ceramic manufacturer created Gzhel, the creamy blue pottery now widely considered “traditional Russian folk”.

Feofan Grek (c. 1340—c. 1410)


Andrey Rublev (c. 1375/80—1428)


Dionisiy (c. 1440—c. 1502)


Khokhloma (second half of the 17th century)


Gzhel (begining of 17th century)


Paleh (begining of 17th century)


Zhostovo painting (second half of the 18th century)

19th century
The artists gained recognition, style, followers, criticism, and ideas. Their works found genres, themes, objectives, meanings, and audiences. The artists began having arguments and discussions on the meaning of art. Over the course of a single century they managed to lay the foundation and break away from academicism, associate themselves with common people, get infatuated with Oriental culture, romanticize history, bring decadence, and revive the bright decorative style of the Slavs. Everyone seemed to have their own view on the future of art. The many schools that existed at the dawn of the 20th century paved the way for the Russian avante garde.

Aleksei Venetsianov (1780—1847)


Orest Kiprenskiy (1782—1836)


Pavel Fedotov (1815—1852)


Ivan Aivazovskiy (1817—1900)


Grigoriy Soroka (1823—1864)


Nikolay Ge (1831—1894)


Ivan Shishkin (1832—1898)


Ivan Kramskoy (1837—1887)


Vasiliy Vereshagin (1842—1904)


Vasiliy Polenov (1844—1927)


Ilya Repin (1844—1930)


Vasiliy Surikov (1848—1916)


Victor Vasnetsov (1848—1926)


Vilgelm Kotarbinski (1849—1922)


Michael Vrubel (1856—1910)


Isaak Levitan (1860—1900)


Abram Arhipov (1862—1930)


Valentin Serov (1865—1911)


Leon Bakst (1866—1924)


Arhip Kuindzhi (1869—1910)


Filipp Malyavin (1869—1940)


Konstantin Somov (1869—1939)


Victor Borisov-Musatov (1870—1905)


Nikolay Rerih (1874—1947)


Mstislav Dobuzhinskiy (1875—1957)


Ivan Bilibin (1876—1942)


Boris Kustodiev (1878—1927)


20th century
The artists of the late 19th century became the artists of the early 20th century. During  the early 1900s and in the years that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917, each and everyone experimented with various European “isms” and tried applying new concepts and styles to their homeland subjects. Abstract art made a breakthrough. The early 1920s saw the constructivists, tenacious with their practical design approach. The fun artistic experiments continued for another decade, but once the Union of Artists of the USSR was established, every unofficial school was shut down, and all those who shun social realism had to leave the scene—they went underground, into book design, small-scale lyric or ethnic art, still life and landscape painting.

Konstantin Korovin (1861—1939)


Niko Pirosmanishvili (1862—1918)


Michael Nesterov (1862—1942)


Vasiliy Kandinskiy (1866—1944)


Igor Grabar (1871—1960)


Petr Konchalovskiy (1876—1956)


Kazimir Malevich (1878—1935)


Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin (1878—1939)


Nikolay Feshin (1881—1955)


Natalia Goncharova (1881—1962)


Michael Larionov (1881—1964)


Pavel Filonov (1883—1941)


Zinaida Serebryakova (1884—1967)


Vladimir Favorsky (1886—1964)


Varvara Bubnova (1886—1983)


Nikolay Tyrsa (1887—1942)


Mark Shagal (1887—1985)


Vladimir Konashevich (1888—1963)


Aleksander Rodchenko (1891—1956)


Vladimir Lebedev (1891—1967)


Vera Ermolaeva (1893—1937)


Arkadiy Plastov (1893—1972)


Pavel Mansurov (1896—1983)


Nikolay Suetin (1897—1954)


Samuil Adlivankin (1897—1966)


Nikolay Kochergin (1897—1974)


Aleksander Deineka (1899—1969)


Eduard Krimmer (1900—1947)


Yuriy Vasnetsov (1900—1973)


Aleksei Pahomov (1900—1973)


Evgeniy Charushin (1901—1965)


Tatiana Mavrina (1902—1996)


Vladimir Suteev (1903—1993)


Aleksei Laptev (1905—1965)


Evgeniy Kibrik (1906—1978)


Naum Tseitlin (1909—1997)


Oleg Korovin (1915—2002)


Kukryniksy — three caricaturists/cartoonists


Leonid Vladimirskyi (born in 1920)


Savva Brodskyi (1923—1982)


May Miturich (1925—2008)


Lev Tokmakov (1928—2010)


Gennadiy Mosin (born in 1930)


Eric Bulatov (born in 1933) & Oleg Vasiliev (born in 1931)


Vladimir Pertsov (born in 1933)


Victor Pivovarov (born in 1937)


Nikolai Ustinov (born in 1937)


Vyacheslav Nazaruk (born in 1941)


Those of you who have children must be familiar with the masterpieces of the Russian animation—the art of illustration too, only with combined effort of an artist and an animation director. Everyone has seen them, but the majority were too little to remember. "Hedgehog in the Fog" by Norshteyn and Yarbusova, "Mowgli" and "The Snow Queen" by Vinokurov, "The Golden Antelope" and "The Scarlet Flower", stories about Gav the Kitten by Shvartsman, "The Mitten" and "Cheburashka" also by him, "Winnie the Pooh" by Nazarov and Khitruk. It is a good idea to re-watch these, and so many more wonderful Soviet cartoons, to appreciate the original, captivating, ever so lovable characters created by the masters.

Aleksander Vinokurov (1922—2002)


Leonid Shvartsman (born in 1920)


Eduard Nazarov (born in 1941)


Francheska Yarbusova (born in 1942)


And if you are looking for yet more inspiration, you should check out collections of digitized slide films--they are gaining popularity again, turned into apps for smartphones and tablets—an abundance of magnificent illustrations.