Gerasimov Alexander Michailovich

GERASIMOV Alexander Mikhailovich

July 31, 1881 (Kozlov, Tambov province) — July 23, 1963 (Moscow)

Painter, graphic artist

Alexander Gerasimov was born to a family of merchant. He studied at Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (MUZhVZ, 1903–1915), under the guidance of A. E. Arkhiopov, N. A. Kasatkin, K. A. Korovin, and V. A. Serov. Firstly he attended the faculty of painting, since 1910 — the faculty of architecture. Since 1909 Gerasimov participated in exhibitions. In 1915 he graduated from MUZhVZ with diploma of architect and artist of the 1st degree.

In the same year Gerasimov was called up for military service. After demobilization in 1918, he lived in Kozlov. He took part in festive decoration of the town for the Revolution celebrations. He also painted a number of panels for Red Army organizations. Gerasimov worked as a scene-designer at local theatre. He exposed his works at the exhibition of the society Svobodnoye Tvorchestvo (“Free Art”, 1918) in Moscow.

In 1925 Gerasimov moved to Moscow. He joined the Association of the artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR), became an active member of the Association. Gerasimov painted landscapes, portraits, and paintings on Revolution and history of the country. In 1920s he painted a series of works, dedicated to the Red Army commanders, and several portraits of V. I. Lenin.

Since 1932 Gerasimov was a member of the Union of Artists of the USSR; he was on the board of the Union. In 1938–1940 he was a chairman of the board of Moscow Section of the Union of Artists (MOSKh); in 1939–1954 — chairman of organizing committee of the Union of Artists.

In 1930s Gerasimov painted a series of portraits of I. V. Stalin: Speech of I. V. Stalin at the 16th congress of VKPb (VKPb — the All-Union Communist Party Bolsheviks, 1933), Stalin among commanders of the 1st Cavalry Army (1936), I. V. Stalin and K. E. Voroshilov in the Kremlin (1938), I. V. Stalin and A. M. Gorky in Gorki (1939). Gerasimov also painted portraits of the ballet dancer O. V. Lepeshinskaya, the actress A. K. Tarasova, the artist I. M. Moskvin, the polar explorer I. D. Papanov and others.

In 1934 Gerasimov made a trip to cities of West Europe; he visited Berlin, Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice, Istanbul, and Paris. He drew a lot of watercolor studies and sketches, while traveling.

Gerasimov participated in many group exhibitions in USSR and abroad: exhibitions of the Association of the artists of Revolutionary Russia (AKhRR) — the Association of the artists of the Revolution (AKhR, 1926–1930); the Exhibition of works of Art by the 10th anniversary of the October Revolution (1928); the First traveling exhibition of painting and drawing (1929); the exhibition Socialist Construction in Soviet Art (1930); the Exhibition of works of artists, sent on a mission to the regions of the industrial building and collective farms in Moscow (1931); jubilee exhibition Artists of the RSFSR for 15 years in Moscow and Leningrad (1932–1934); traveling exhibition of Soviet art in Japan (1926–1927); exhibition of industrial art in Cologne (1929) and others. Gerasimov was awarded Grand Prix for the painting The 1st Cavalry Army at the World exhibition in Paris (1937), and bronze medal for the portrait of F. A. Gedike and Group portrait of Soviet artists I. N. Pavlov, V. N. Baksheev, V. K. Byalynitsky-Birulya, and V. N. Meshkov at the World exhibition in Brussels (1958). In 1936 the personal exhibition of the painter was held in Moscow.
At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, Gerasimov was evacuated to the south of the country. In 1942 he returned to Moscow. In 1943 he was the first soviet artist who was conferred the title of the People’s Artist of USSR. He was also awarded the Stalin prize four times: in 1941 — for the painting I. V. Stalin and K. E. Voroshilov in the Kremlin (1938), in 1943 — for the painting Hymn to October (1942), in 1946 — for the painting Group portrait of Soviet artists (1944), in 1949 — for the painting I. V. Stalin near coffin of A. A. Zhdanov (1948). In 1951 Gerasimov was conferred academic degree on art history. He was awarded the Order of V. I. Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour.

In 1947–1952 Gerasimov worked on illustrations to the story Taras Bulba by N. V. Gogol. At the beginning of 1950s, Gerasimov made a trip to India, Egypt and China in order to gather material for creative work. In 1949–1960 he headed art studio under the USSR Academy of Arts. A lot of paintings of that time (Great oath, 1950–1951) were painted collectively.

In 1947–1957 Gerasimov was a president of the USSR Academy of Arts. Although he improved structure of the Academy, Gerasimov repressed any dissent in art. He was one of the initiators of closing of the New West Art Museum in Moscow in 1946.

After the 20th congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (KPSS) in 1956, Gerasimov fell into disgrace and was dismissed. In late 1950s — early 1960s he did not take part in exhibitions. At the end of his life he painted most of all landscapes and still lifes.

Gerasimov was buried at the Novodevichie cemetery in Moscow. He left memoirs Life of the Artist (Moscow, 1963).

Alexander Gerasimov was one of the most significant representatives of soviet art, whose works became examples of official style of the Stalin epoch. In early works (1910s) Gerasimov painted in impressionistic style, with bright colors and large strokes, in traditions of the Union of Russian Artists. Since mid 1920s he painted mainly under the government orders, in realistic style. His works of that period were characterized by ideological matter, clear composition, and work on the details. Gerasimov criticized formalism, upheld the principles of high ideological art. At the same time, in 1930s–1940s and especially in 1950s — early 1960s, he created landscapes and still lifes in free manner of painting, which was close to his early works.

Works by Alexander Gerasimov are in many museum collections, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, the State Historical Museum, the State Museum of Contemporary History of Russia, the National Art Museum of the Belarus Republic in Minsk, and in regional museums. There is A. M. Gerasimov Museum-Estate in Michurinsk (former Kozlov).

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