SHULZHENKO Vasily Vladimirovich (1949) Edgar Alan Poe in Baltimore in 1849. 2011. Oil on canvas. 121 × 145
Before us is a portrait of the American writer Edgar Alan Poe with the heroes of his works. The father of the detective story genre (as he was called by Conan Doyle, the author of Sherlock Holmes) died at the age of 40 and left another crime mystery at the end of his life. Edgar Poe died under mysterious circumstances in Baltimore in 1849. The writer was found in someone else's clothes in an agitated delusional state at a polling station located in a tavern. A few days later, Edgar Poe died in the hospital. The causes are not reliably known. According to one of the versions, Poe was drunk and involved in an “electoral carousel” — a group of drinking voters were transferred from precinct to precinct, so that they put their signatures for the desired candidate. However, some witnesses claim that there was no alcohol smell from Poe that day, and his fame would not have allowed him to remain incognito for such a delicate matter as electoral fraud. One thing is certain: Edgar Poe was an extravagant man and made a fantastic number of enemies. The writer was sharp on his tongue, merciless in public literary criticism, drank a lot, did not always respect business agreements and was capable of defiant antics. According to one of the tales for his deliberate dismissal from West Point Academy, where he was in good standing, Edgar Poe went to the formation naked. They said they were all ordered to come in white gloves and a sword belt — and he did it literally. He came out wearing gloves and a sword belt, but no trousers. The order didn't mention pants.
Edgar Poe's prose and poetry inspired a whole generation of 19th century writers, including Conan Doyle and Fyodor Dostoevsky. The construction with the sociopathic investigator of extraordinary ability and his mediocre surroundings is one of Poe's findings. In general, the ancestor of the detective genre himself was ascribed almost supernatural abilities. For example, in “The Tale of the Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym”, he described a story where sailors who survived a shipwreck ate their companion named Richard Parker. And 46 years after that book, a real case occurred. The crew from a sunken yacht was rescued by a dinghy. After several days of torment at sea, the survivors became insane, killed the young man and ate him. The young man's name was... Richard Parker.
But back to the painting. What do we see? A meditating Edgar Poe, an orangutan from Murder in the Rue Morgue, a one-eyed Pluto from The Black Cat, as well as a black raven and other characters from the stories and poems of the American genius. The only thing we didn't remember was, who was the legless black man with a bottle? What story is he from? If you know, write in the comments below the video.
The author of this picture is the great and terrible Vasily Shulzhenko. A bold, provocative artist, author of the famous canvas “The Kybo”. The heroes of his works, like those of Edgar Allan Poe, are often marginalized, drunkards and phantasmagorical characters. Sharp in his judgement, Vasily Shulzhenko, like Edgar Poe, is often attacked by critics. He is usually blamed for his dislike of the Russian people. Well... this time there is nothing to pick on. There is nothing Russian. Except for resemblance to Dostoevsky. Before us is a gorgeous, atmospheric work and a plot that is understandable all over the world, on all continents.
YAKOVLEV Vladimir Igorevich (1934–1998) Two white flowers on a black background. Late 1960s — early 1970s. Gouache on paper. 49.5 × 39.6
A masterpiece by performance, touching gouache of one of the most nationally beloved Russian artists. These very pictures were hung in tiny apartments of the Soviet intelligentsia - engineers, doctors, scientists, and musicians. Yakovlev is a phenomenon. The brightest and most unfathomable phenomenon in unofficial art. Since his youth he suffered from mental illness, spent many years in psychiatric hospitals and boarding schools, at the end of his life he was almost completely blind. But today we have Yakovlev at the peak of his creative form. Everything is good here: the year, the plot, the virtuoso performance. The work is signed and confirmed by the expertise of Valery Silaev.
1960s UNOFFICIAL ART
KRASNOPEVTSEV Dmitry Mikhailovich (1925–1995) Sketch of the scenery. 1960. Oil on cardboard. 44.5 × 49
The picture was painted by Dmitry Krasnopevtsev in 1960. This is the very beginning of a particularly valuable period in the artist's work, where his trademark laconic calm color scheme and strictness of composition already appeared. In the reference book of Alexander Ushakov for 1960, there are several paintings of this type. All of them are already in important collections. Our oil, the main connoisseur of Krasnopevtsev's work, of course, also saw and confirmed.
Paintings and drawings by Krasnopevtsev have recently appeared at our auctions with enviable regularity. One gets the impression that there are a lot of Krasnopevtsev paintings on the market. No. This is far from the case. We are simply witnessing a phenomenally favorable historical moment for collectors, when owners are ready to part with rare paintings. There are very few Krasnopevtsev’s works on the market. He is not enough “in nature”, in principle. Since the 1960s, he has painted about 500 paintings. Almost all of them are known. And most are in high-level collections, with no immediate plans for resale. Where, then, do the paintings come from at the auctions? Krasnopevtsev was a favorite of Kostaki and Richter, his paintings were gladly bought by foreign diplomats and journalists who worked in the USSR. Many of his “suitcase-sized” paintings were taken to Europe and America. And now, many years later, they sometimes resurface at foreign auctions, where Russian collectors and investors hunt for them.
NEMUKHIN Vladimir Nikolaevich (1925–2016) Hanukkah. 2006. Canvas, acrylic. 77 × 57
Hanukkah. Uncommon subject for Nemukhin. Although the Jewish religious theme is not new to him.
Hanukkah ended this year on December 18. Today it has become more of a children's holiday. During Hanukkah, adults work, and children do not go to school for several days and receive gifts. But in general, the Festival of Light or the Feast of Lights or the Feast of the Eight Candles refers to the tragic historical events that took place 2,200 years ago. In those days, the Syrian ruler of Macedonian origin Antiochus Epiphanes ruled Judea. He pursued a tough assimilation policy. He took out utensils from Jewish temples, actually plundered them, banned the Torah, banned the ministry, carried out Hellenization with the conversion of the Jewish nobility to paganism. Unable to endure the policy of religious oppression, the inhabitants of Judea unleashed a partisan war against the pagan occupiers. The fighting was led by Yehuda of the Maccabees family. The Jews fought the war for nearly twenty years, and won. On the day of victory, the Jews went up to the desecrated Temple in Jerusalem to light a special lampstand with eight lights and to consecrate the Temple anew. There was almost no oil left for it. In the only tiny jug that was found, ritual oil remained for one day. But a miracle happened, and the fire lasted for eight whole days. So Hanukkah is the feast of the purification of the Temple, and at the same time the feast of the Jews' victory over the Hellenes — all together.
In Nemukhin's painting, one can see an obvious reference to the Hanukkah candlestick with eight candles (previously, instead of candles, there were containers of oil). During Hanukkah, Jews light one candle each of the eight days. For them it is a veneration of the miraculous victory and a symbol of light triumphing over darkness.
PLAVINSKY Dmitry Petrovich (1937–2012) Ruins in Bessarabia. 1964. Paper on hardboard, oil, author's technique. 93 × 68
Master of structural symbolism. Cosmist. Artist and researcher. Among the first names of unofficial post-war art.
In the 1960s the artist walked half the country. Got impressions, studied the monuments of the past. Before us is a paleographic composition inspired by the tombstone seen by Plavinsky on his travels across Moldova. With inscriptions in Church Slavonic. Painted in 1964. The authenticity is confirmed in writing by the author in the photo.
NESTEROVA Natalia Igorevna (1944) Teahouse in Gissar. 1971. Oil on canvas. 69 × 49
Natalia Nesterova was called “the Amazon of the left Moscow Union of Artists”. She did not belong to the nonconformist camp, did not participate in prohibited exhibitions. But her distinctive neo-primitivism was a breath of fresh air in the era of stifling industrial socialist realism.
MASTERKOVA Lidia Alekseevna (1927–2008) Composition with circles and dots. 1988. Ink, applique on paper. 64 × 48 (in light)
An Amazon of the “second avant-garde”, a member of the “Lianozovo group”, Kostaki's favorite. Masterkova took part in historical exhibitions in the “Friendship” club, in the Izmailovo exhibition, in the exhibition in the “Beekeeping” pavilion at VDNKh. In 1975, the artist emigrated to France. She died there in 2008. Her works are represented in the Tretyakov Gallery, the Zimmerli Museum (Norton Dodge collection) and in important private collections of unofficial art.
POPKOV Viktor Efimovich (1932–1974) The Village. Second half of the 1950s. Oil on cardboard. 24 × 46
He burst into the history of art as one of the main representatives of the “severe style” with his large-scale canvas “Builders of Bratsk”. But soon Popkov moved away from the socialist realist pathos, turned to the themes of peasant life, the dying village, to the problems of ordinary people. Popkov was sincerely interested in a wide range of philosophical issues: the relationship of generations, human responsibility to nature, the phenomenon of loneliness. His painting “A Good Woman was Grandma Anisya” became one of the most piercing stories in the art of the 1970s. He was buried under it.
Viktor Popkov died tragically in 1974. The artist wanted to catch a taxi on Gorky Street. It was night, he saw a Volga, pulled the door handle (that was the custom back then). A shot rang out in response. The Volga turned out to be a cash collector, and the artist's actions were mistaken for an attack.
The painting “The Village” refers to Popkov's characteristic natural landscapes of the early 1950s. Expert Valery Silaev notes its collection and museum value.
1970s UNOFFICIAL ART
KAZARIN Viktor Semyonovich (1948) The Dragon and the Sun. 1998. Oil on canvas. 90 × 80
A painting for those who are looking for a reference Kazarin. Exemplary charged neo-expressionism of the 1990s. The peak of creative form.
Viktor Kazarin is an artist of unofficial art, a representative of the “late City Committee”. As part of the group “21” (Zverev, Vologzhanin, Bordachev, etc.) he exhibited in the hall on Malaya Gruzinskaya since the late 1970s.