Isaak Israelovitch Brodsky

Isaak Israelovitch Brodsky (1884-1939) was a Russian painter who bridged the pre-Soviet and Soviet eras. Mentored by Ilya Repin, one of the great 19th century Russian painters, Brodsky went on to be one of the seminal figures in the Socialist Realism school.

 Alley in the Park (1930)

 At the Coffin of the Leader (1925)

 Demonstration (1930)

 Fairy Tale (1911)
[a pre-Soviet era painting]

 Golden Autumn (1913)

Fallen Leaves (1915)

 Self-Portrait with Daughter (1911)

  Speech by Lenin at a Rally of Workers (1929)


 Street Scene in Winter (1919-20)

The Execution of the Twenty-Six Baku Commissars (1929)


In the new Soviet state, education of new generations of citizens was of supreme importance, so it's not surprising that there are many paintings of schooling from Soviet artists. Most of these are overtly political, but there are some surprising exceptions.

 Alexander Haskelevich Kerzhner: In the First Class

 Gleb Barabanshchikov: Tenth Graders

 Grigory Gavrilenko: Learning from the Excellent

 Ivan Kozlov: A Beginner's Entrance (1950)

 Vasili Efanov: Graduation Day, Red Square

The following two unusual paintings depict students in difficulty, a surprising departure from the relentlessly optimistic tone of the preceding paintings. One imagines that these are from the post-Stalin era, though the second one is from the year before Stalin's death.
Viktor Tsvetkov: Unsolved (1969)

Fedor Reshetnikov: Low Marks Again (1952)
[more about this painting] [still more (scroll down a bit)]

Great Patriotic War

The Soviets called World War II the "Great Patriotic War." Arguably the single most devastating episode in Russian/Soviet history, it cost 20 million Soviet lives. May 9th is Victory Day in Russia, celebrated to this day.

Naturally the Great Patriotic War received a lot of attention from Soviet artists. This is the first of several sets of these paintings, which include equal parts of sacrifice, determination, and triumphalism.

 A. Krasnov: For the Motherland (1958)

 Aleksandr Laktionov: A Letter From the Front (1947)

 Alexander Alexandrovich Deyneka: The Defense of Sebastopol (1942)

Regarding the following, an article in Passport Moscow (2007) has this to say:
One of the best pictures by Arkadi Plastov (1893-1972) is called ‘A Nazi Plane Has Flown Over’ (1942). The peaceful beauty of the Russian land, and the stillness and enchantment of autumn have been brutally violated by the enemy. A small dog is howling beside the body of a shepherd boy machine-gunned to death by the Nazi plane that has just flown over. The image throbs with pain and hatred for the enemy. Plastov’s painting was shown for the first time at the Great Patriotic War exhibition mounted in the halls of the Tretyakov Gallery in November 1942.
 Arkady Plastov: A Nazi Plane Flew By (1942)

 E. A. Korneev: The Siege of Leningrad (1951)

 F. Usypenko: Night Fight

 Fedor Ivanovich Deryazhnyi: Fascists are on the Run

The final painting here is one of my favorites. No triumphalism here - simply a vast sense of relief that it's all over. A brilliant, brilliant depiction.
Georgi Melikhov: Victory Day in Berlin (1960)