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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The art of Yuri Pimenov, People's Artist of the USSR

On the anniversary of his birth (November 26, 1903) we revisit Pimenov's work through 50 of his best pieces.

Yuri Pimenov, one of the great artists of the Soviet Union, was born November 26, 1903. Over the course of his remarkable career he captured many aspects of Soviet life. In 1972 Aurora, the Soviet art publishing house, issued a retrospective of his work that included many of his best pieces from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Pimenov tackled varied themes and his work included forays into movie and stage posters as well as theater set design. But to me where he truly shines are in his streetscapes, his portraits of people -- often at work or in the city -- and in his sometimes unnerving, atmospheric stills.

Among the 50 pieces here 1937's New Moscow is considered one of his masterworks with its sense of vibrancy, energy and transformation. Tyre Tracks (1944) is a haunting winter scene during the war. Pouring Rain (1967) and Kaliningrad - Rain (1968) are two of his works that include rain, a backdrop which he greatly enjoyed using. The Beginning of Love (1960) is a very romantic take on a daily transit commute while another portrayal of a couple, The Argument (1968) reminds a bit of Rockwell.

"Marusia, lunch time" (1951-56) marvelously captures women construction workers, while Wedding on Tomorrow's Street (1962) is a favourite of mine as a wedding party is finely decked out in total contrast to their surroundings, a new housing district under construction. This type of contrast is seen again in Trendsetters of the New District (1961) and Roads (1969).

The Call of the Road (1959) captures that feeling that comes when on the verge of a new journey, while Waiting (1959) is stunning with its uncradled phone leaving one uneasily wondering just what is going on on yet another rainy -- and in this case seemingly bleak -- day.

Pimenov won many of the Soviet Union's highest artist's honours. He died in 1977.

“I love to paint rain. This world can be a very beautiful, if a person is currently set at the beauty. If a person has bad at heart, if he is disappointed and sad, rain will put into him melancholy. Urban rain is full of different images and moods. It brings to the artist no less richness of sensations and feelings than the field, covered with gray veil of autumn, than the sparkling drops on pine branches, and the sun through the steamy air of wet forests. On the theme of rain in the city are created a lot of variations in art, and, of course, will be done very much in painting and poetry, and film. In fact, every day we are in a volatile nature, and only absolutely apathetic people are completely...indifferent to it” - Yuri Pimenov

Actress, 1935

Boule de suif, Film Poster, 1934

Golden Nude, 1932

Woman in a Hammock, 1934

Rose Nude, 1932

Still-life with Straw Hat, 1936

Figure Study with a Pitcher, 1932

Portrait of Zinaida Reich, 1934

Still-life with Telephone, 1934

Portrait of Varia Shitakova, 1935

The Art of Intrigue, Playbill, 1935

The Wedding, Film Poster, 1935

Peter, Film Poster, 1935

Portrait of Lydia Eremina, 1935

New Moscow, 1937

Railway Station in Autumn, 1945

Tyre Tracks, 1944

Still-life with Orange, 1944

Morning, 1946

Tania Komarova, 1944

The Flower Seller, 1944

Drop-curtain design for the opera Pagliacci, 1957

Composition on the theme of the opera Pagliacci, 1968-69

Drop-curtain for the play La dame aux camelias, 1946

The Ball at Olympia's, Scene design for the fourth act of

La dame aux camelias, 1946

Composition on the theme of the play

La dame aux camelias, 1968-69

Waiting, 1959

Strawberries and Cream, 1956

Pouring Rain, 1967

Paris, Ruse Saint-Dominique, 1958

The Call of the Road, 1959

Venice, The Straw Hat Shop, 1958

Venice, Washday, 1958

Venice, The Lonely Flower Seller, 1958

Cloudburst, 1963

The Argument, 1968

Kaliningrad, Rain, 1968

Things Old and New, 1967

Lunchtime at the Spa, 1961

Washerwomen, 1961

The Beginning of Love, 1960

A Pane of Glass, 1966

"Marusia, lunch time!" 1951-56

Between Work and the Theatre, 1960

Working Clothes, 1967

Trendsetters of the New District, 1961

Roads, 1969

Epona, Goddess of Horses, 1965-66

Wedding on Tomorrow's Street, 1962

Portrait of Tatyana Samoylova in the Role of Anna Karenina, 1966

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