Plastov, Arkadii Aleksandrovich
Born Jan. 19 (31), 1893, in the village of Prislonikha, in present-day Ul’ianovsk Oblast; died there May 12, 1972. Soviet painter. People’s Artist of the USSR (1962); member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1947).
Plastov attended the Stroganov Central Industrial Arts School in Moscow from 1912 to 1914. During the following three years he studied under S. M. Volnukhin in the department of sculpture at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture. He also received training from A. E. Arkhipov, A. M. Korin, and A. S. Stepanov. Plastov lived and worked in his native village.
In the 1920’s and 1930’s, Plastov primarily produced political posters and illustrations for the works of Russian writers. Beginning in 1935 he painted mostly genre scenes and portraits. These works reflect a deep understanding and poetic perception of nature, the Soviet Russian countryside, and the life of the people. With great feeling, Plastov glorified the noble labor and spiritual beauty of the Soviet peasantry.
Having developed artistically under the influence of the peredvizhniki (the “wanderers”—a progressive art movement) and the Union of Russian Artists, Plastov continued to develop the traditions of late-19th-century and early-20th-century Russian pleinair and genre painting. His works are marked by warm, brilliant colors and by a simple composition with large figures in the foreground.
Among Plastov’s works are The Kolkhoz Herd (also known as At Pasture, 1938, Sverdlov Picture Gallery), The Fascist Has Flown Overhead (1942, Tret’iakov Gallery, Moscow), The Haying and The Reaping (both 1945; Tret’iakov Gallery; State Prize of the USSR, 1946), and Portrait of the Carpenter Ivan Lobanov (1947, property of the artist’s family, Prislonikha). Plastov did a cycle of paintings called People of the Kolkhoz Countryside (1951–65; Lenin Prize, 1966), which included the works Tractor Drivers at Supper (1951, Irkutsk Oblast Art Museum), The Girl With the Bicycle (1956, Irkutsk Oblast Art Museum), Vitia the Herdsboy (1951, Russian Museum, Leningrad), Potato Harvesting (1956, Russian Museum), Spring (1954, Tret’iakov Gallery), and Mama (1964, Tret’iakov Gallery). Later paintings included Bonfire in the Field (1968–69, Ul’ianovsk Oblast Art Museum) and Out of the Past (1969, Tret’iakov Gallery; I. E. Repin State Prize of the RSFSR, 1972).
Plastov did illustrations for Chekhov’s stories (watercolor, crayon, india ink, and white gouache; 1920–27; Museum of Literature, Moscow), N. A. Nekrasov’s poem Frost the Red-nosed (published in 1949), and L. N. Tolstoy’s short story Kholstomer, the Story of a Horse (watercolor and gouache, 1952–54, Tret’iakov Gallery).
Plastov was awarded two Orders of Lenin and several medals.