Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev was an infinitely talented painter of the 20th century, who devoted his life to depicting bright and cheerful paintings in everyday life and landscape genres. Critics called Boris Kustodiev the author of “illiterate popular prints”, but during his lifetime he achieved recognition as an excellent portrait painter and decorator, became an academician of painting at the Imperial Academy of Arts, and even tried his hand at sculpture.
Biography of Boris Kustodiev
Boris Kustodiev comes from a large, intelligent family that lived in Astrakhan. He was born on March 7, 1878. Boris Mikhailovich did not remember his father – he died when the boy was barely one year old. The care of the maintenance of the family was taken over by the mother, who saw in her son a penchant for drawing and found funds for private lessons from the Astrakhan painter Pavel Vlasov. As the artist admitted in a letter to his sister, he never really learned how to draw. But he did not give up on his big dream.
After graduating from the seminary, Boris Kustodiev went to conquer Moscow, but did not pass the age selection for an art school. Therefore, he went to the capital and successfully passed the exams at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts. Here he was taught by the idol of childhood – Ilya Repin. Naturally, Boris became the best student of Repin, who connected the student to the creation of 27 portraits for the monumental “Grand Meeting of the State Council.”
And in the summer of 1900, sketches happened in the Kostroma province, where Boris Kustodiev met his future wife. They got married 3 years later and, after graduating from the academy, went on a trip to Europe, visiting France and Spain. Kustodiev earned money: for the “Bazaar in the Village”, written in 1902, he was given a gold medal and the right to a “pensioner’s” trip. Unfortunately, the painting has not survived to this day.
Returning to his homeland, the artist bought land, built a house on it and began to search for his own place in painting. The main goal was to develop a unique style. He paints landscapes bright and saturated with colors, combines portraits with the background of nature and everyday genre, creates spectacular works with a philistine-merchant and peasant plot. The artist works in realism and modernity, uses oil, gouache and tempera, reproduces Russian parsuna and popular print. And, in the end, he developed a peculiar style of drawing – it was an ironic stylization of merchant and folk life with puffy and ruddy Russian beauties, stately men and cheerful fairground festivities.
last years of life
Kustodiev worked a lot in the theater – he created scenery and sketches for costumes for the Moscow Art Theater, the Bolshoi and Academic Theaters. And after the October Revolution, he successfully fit into the new realities and designed Petrograd for the celebration of the first anniversary, drawing popular prints, paintings and posters. Boris Mikhailovich spent the last 15 years of his life in a wheelchair. But if at the beginning he could not only walk, then in 1916 it was about the mobility of his hands.
This is how the artist’s health reacted to a tumor of the spinal cord, which, however, did not affect the internal content of Kustodiev’s paintings – during the period of illness, the master created his most interesting and temperamental works. And who would have thought that Boris Kustodiev wrote them lying down, suffering from pain and restoring the body after the most difficult operations?
The artist died on May 26, 1927 in Soviet Leningrad, just 10 days before receiving a foreign passport, according to which he was supposed to go to Germany for treatment.