Art A-Z: P – Petrov-Vodkin Kusma

Kusma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin (1878, Khvalynsk – 1939, Saint-Petersburg) – painter.

In 1893-1895 studied at Burov’s classes in Samara, in 1897-1904 – at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, in 1901 – at Azbe’s studio in Munich. From 1906 to 1908 Petrov-Vodkin passed  apprentice in several workshops in Paris.

In the first decade of the XX century he travelled a lot in France, Italy, Greece, Northern Africa.

Anxiety, 1934


In 1908 he moved to Saint-Petersburg and became teacher of painting.  In 1918 – 1933 tought at the Academy of Arts.

Member of Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) fellowship.

Petrov-Vodkin’s particular style developed under influence of ancien Russian art, Italian primitivists, and French art. his spectrum is based on three open local colours – red, blue and yellow.

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Morning Still-Life, 1918

In 1920s, painter’s system of “spherical perspective” established, which marked his later works.

Author of memoir “Euclid’s’ space”.



Art A-Z: O – Opekushin Aleksandr

Aleksandr Mikhailovich Opekushin (1838, Svechkino, near Yaroslavl – 1923, Rybnitsy, near Yaroslavl) – sculptor.

In 1862, he received silver medal for bas-relief Angel and was gained eight to attend sculptor classes at the Academy of Art.

Opekushin worked together with Mikeshin on the monument Millennium of Russia (1862) in Novgorod.

In 1872 he was gained status of academic of art foe the statue of Peter the Great (bronze).

Since 1872 Opekushin worked on the statue of A.Puskin, which was unveiled  in 1880 in Moscow.

A.Pushkin, Moscow

Author of the statue of poet M.Lermontov in Piatigorsk (1889).

His late works statue of Aleksandr II in the Kremlin and Aleksandr III (see up) near the Cathedral of Christ the Savior were destroyed in 1918.


M.Lermontov, Piatigorsk

Interesting Fact

Statue of A.Pushkin on Strastnoi boulevard is considered the most well-known in Moscow, it is a popular meeting point in the center.


Learn more about Opekishin’s statue of Aleksandr II in the course of our tour in the Kremlin.

Art A-Z: N – Nesterov Mikhail

Mikhail Vasilievich Nesterov (Ufa, 1862 – Moscow, 1942) – painter.

Studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture and at the Academy of Arts in Saint-Petersburg.

Since 1896 – member of  the Society for Travelling Art Exhibitions (Peredvizhniki). 

Girls on the river bank

In 1890 – 1895, Nesterov together with V.Vasnetsov painted Vladimir Cathedral in Kiev. In 1894 – 1895, he worked on sketches of mosaics for the Church of the Savior on Blood in Saint-Petersburg.

The first half of Nesterov’s career was marked by interest for religion. He painted The Hermit (1886) after death of his wife, The Vision to the Youth Bartholomew (1889-1890) (see up), made painting for Marfo-Mariinskiy convent (1908-1911). He was inspired by ancient Russian religions painting, as well as contemporary religious writers and philosophers, including N.Leskov and L.Tolstoi.

Silence, 1903

Since mid-1920s, Nestetov paints portraits of his contemporaries – painters, scientists, etc.

Portrait of sculptor Vera Mukhina, 1940



Visit the Tretyakov Gallery to see Nesterov’s famous works.


Art A-Z: M – Melnikov Konstantin

Konstantin Stepanovich Melnikov (1890, Moscow – 1974, Moscow) – architect.

In 1914, Melnikov graduated from the Faculty of Painting of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, in 1917 – from the Faculty of Architecture of the same establishment.

Since 1920 – professor of Vkhutemas (Higher Art and Technical Studios).

In 1921-1924 he implemented a number of projects that brought him fame, including the pavilion Makhorka for All-Russian Agriculture Exhibition (1923), sarcophagus for Lenin’s Mausoleum, Novo-Sukharevskiy market. In these projects he used new methods – “shift” of forms, dynamics of diagonal and others.

In 1925, Melnikov designed Soviet pavilion for Paris Exhibition of Decorative Arts, which was highly appreciated by the European public. During his stay in Paris, he designed two complexes of garages.

Club Burevestnik

In the second half of 1920s he actively participation in competitions and won several of them, which allowed him to design clubs, public establishments, blocks of flats, etc.

Since the beginning of 1930s – decline of architectural career because of political circumstances, he was accused of formalism like many other Soviet architects of 1920s. Fortunately, he continued his career in education.

Famous works:

  • Club named after Rusakov (see up) (1927-1929)
  • Club Kauchuk (1927-1929)
  • Club Burevestnik (1927-1929)
  • Private experimental house



Read more about Melnikov and his family here –

Inside Melnikov’s Experimental House

Art A-Z: L – Lubok

Lubok – traditional Russian engraved or painted images made by craftsmen and distributed among people.

Traits – image on a list is combined with text, simple composition, bright colours, anonymity.

Lubok emerged in the XVII century and gained momentum in the first half of the XIX century and declined by the beginning of the XX century.

At the beginning lubok depicted religious stories, it was popular among the Old Believers, especially in the North of Russia, Povolzhie and near Moscow.

Death of a just man and  of a sinner

In the XIX century, lubok depicted people’s heroes, songs, satire, proverbs. It was sold at markets and fairs.

Lubok was engraved by different techniques – on wooden or copper plates, later –  on lithographic limestone.


Art A-Z: K – Kandinsky Vasily

Vasily Vasilievich Kandinsky (1866, Moscow – 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine) – painter, theorist of art, one of founders of abstract art.

Born to a family of a merchant, he had Russian, German and Buryat (one of Russia’s people) origins. He equally spoke Russian and German since childhood.

Kandinsky graduated from the Faculty of Law of the Moscow State University and planned to become a professor, but suddenly he dropped academic career and went to Munich to learn painting.

Composition VI

In 1900s, Kandinsky’s style was influenced by impressionism and modern. He painted landscapes and views of Munich and other places that he visited, as well as historical heroes and fairy tales.

In 1906-1908, Kandinsky travelled around Europe, he spent a year in Paris, six months – in Berlin. He participated in multiple exhibitions.

In 1908-1910, he started to experiment with composition and colour in landscapes of Murnau, near Munich.

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Composition VIII

In 1911, the first abstract Painting with a circle was created, and in 1913 – two works that marked Munich period – Composition VI and Composition VII (see up). However, a lot of experts suppose that Kandinsky’s aquarelle of 1910 was the first abstract picture ever created.

In 1915-1921 – due to the First World War he returned to Moscow, where he worked as professor.

Since 1921 – professor of Bauhaus (Germany).

1933-1944 – Paris period. In Paris Kandinsky became friend of P. Mondrian, H. Miro and other young painters, who considered him one the brightest visionary of the XX century.

Author of several books about art, including About the Spiritual in Art and Point and Line to Plane, which embodied Kandinsky ideas about art and became indispensable for many painters and connoisseurs of art.

Interesting Fact

In one of his books Kandinsky states that he was inspired by Monet’s Hayrick, painting that he saw at the impressionism exhibition in Moscow in 1895.


If you want to see Composition VII – visit the Tretyakov Gallery, for Composition VI – go the State Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg. However, Kandinsky’s paintings are a part of many museums’ and private collections around the globe.

Art A-Z: I – Ivanov Aleksandr

Aleksandr Andreevich Ivanov (1806, Saint-Petersburg – 1858, Saint-Petersburg) – painter.

Born to a family of a painter, he studied at the Academy of Art. In 1830, he received scholarship to travel to Italy.

In 1833, in Italy,  he started to make studies for The Appearance of Christ before the People, which became the work of his life (see up).

As Ivanov described the painting him-self, it was about “crossroad of physical and spiritual powers”.

Ivanov was the first in history of Russian art, who used sketches made en plein air for landscape backgrounds. At the same time his style was strictly classical and academic and did not resemble Impressionists, who later also worked en plein air.

Walking on water, study, 1850s

In 1857, Ivanov exposed The Appearance in his workshop in Rome. Inspired by its success in Europe, he brought the painting to Saint-Petersburg, where it was displayed at the Winter Palace (residence of the emperor), and later at the Academy of Art.

Russian public, however, was indifferent and even hostile towards The Appearance. The painter, who had poor health, was depressed by the public’s reaction, and 1858, he caught cholera and died.


Visit the Tretyakov Gallery to learn more about The Appearance, its history, and studies for it.

Art A-Z: G – Grabar Igor

Igor Emmanuilovich Grabar (1871,  Budapest, – 1960, Moscow) – painter, historian of art.

In 1893, Grabar graduated from the Faculty of Law of the University of Saint-Petersburg. In 1894 – 1896 – studied at the Academy of Art, he attended Repin’s classes, then in 1896-1989 he continued his studies in Munich.

In 1901, he became a member of Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) fellowship.

Made multiple trips to Europe, in 1914 he visited Egypt, in 1924 – the USA.

February azure, 1904

His early works were widely influenced by impressionism, in his landscapes he used the method of decompositions of colour, especially in winter scenes.  Later, however, his style transformed into more academic.

Grabar made huge work to preserve Russian art. He wrote books about painters I.Repin, V.Serov, I.levitan. In 1909-1916, under his reduction the first History of Russian Art was published.

Chrisantemums, 1905

In 1913-1925 – head of the Tretyakov Gallery.

In 1918, he became head of Central Restauration Workshops, which later were named after him (In June 2018, this organisation celebrated 100 anniversary).

Author of History of Russian Art in several volumes (1953-1869).

Art A-Z: F – Fedotov Pavel

Pavel Andreevich Fedotov (1815, Moscow – 1852, Saint-Petersburg) – painter.

Made a military career. In 1834 – 1844, during military service in Saint-Petersburg he visited classes at the Academy of Arts and was making aquarelle and pencil sketches of mates and friends. In 1844, Fedotov completely dedicated him-self to art.

In 1849, three Fedotov’s works, that were exposed at the Academy of Art’s exhibition, received positive reviews (Including Matchmaking of the Major – see up).

Nobleman’s Breakfast, 1850

Fedotov’s paintings are full of drama, interesting plots and conflicts. His later works, however, are more pessimistic and more static.

Players, 1851-1852


If you want to see Fedotov’s works, visit the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow and the State Russian Museum in Saint-Petersburg.

Art A-Z: E – Eropkin Petr

Petr Mikhaylovich Eropkin (1689, Moscow – 1740, Saint-Petersburg) – architect.

Born to a family of noble but poor family. From 1716 to 1724 studied architecture in Italy.

Since 1725 participated in construction of Petergof. Since 1735 took part in previously suspended construction of Aleksandr Nevskiy Lavra. In the 30th years of the XVIII century made a number of houses for Russian noblemen.

Eropkin was the author of the first perspective plan of Saint-Petersburg.

In 1740, Russian empress Anna Ioanovna decided to organise wedding for her buffoons, and Eropken designed Ice House on Neva river in Saint-Petersburg, where the ceremony took place (see the picture up).

Eropkin was one of the first theorists of architecture in Russia and was considered one the most educated persons of his time. He translated several parts of A.Palladio’s famous book “About architecture” into Russian.

Was accused of conspiracy and executed.

Interesting Fact

In Moscow you can find Eropkinskiy lane, which was named after Petr Eropkin’s relative, Petr Dmitrievich Eropkin, Russian statesman.