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Makovets


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A society of artists and writers founded in Moscow in 1921. The name derived from the hill on which the famous monastery at Zagorsk (one of Russia's holiest places) was built in the 14th century—a gesture indicating the emphasis its members placed on spiritual and religious values in art (the society was originally known as the ‘Art is Life’ Union of Artists and Poets). The painters involved in the organization included Vasily Chekrygin (1897–1922), whose highly promising career was cut short by his death in a railway accident, Sergei Gerasimov (1885–1964), and Alexander Shevchenko. Their works included landscapes and portraits in a lyrical, sometimes Expressionist style. Alan Bird (A History of Russian Painting, 1987) writes that the society had no ‘chance of public success in the artistic world of revolutionary Russia controlled by the followers of Tatlin and Malevich’; to such people ‘easel painting was ostensibly anathema, and all figurative art, even when, as in some pictures and drawings by Chekrygin, it was used to show in graphic terms the hunger that stalked the country, was considered an affront to the new spirit of the nation’. The society organized one exhibition (Moscow, 1922) and published a journal, also called Makovets (two issues, Moscow, 1922; a third issue was censored), before breaking up in 1926. After this Gerasimov changed course completely, abandoning his exquisite watercolours for vast Socialist Realist propaganda canvases. In spite of this he fell foul of authority in 1948 when he was removed from his teaching post in Moscow after being accused of encouraging Impressionism. The following year he repainted one of his best-known pictures, The Mother of a Partisan (1943, Russian Museum, St Petersburg), to make the title figure conform more closely to the Soviet heroic ideal of womanhood.

Subjects: Art.


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