Kukryniksy


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Kukryniksy

 

(pseudonym formed from the first syllables of the names Kupriianov, Krylov, and Nikolai Sokolov), a creative collective of Soviet graphic artists and painters whose members are Mikhail VasiPevich Kupriianov (born Oct. 8 [21], 1903, in Tetiushi, in present-day Tatar ASSR), Porfirii Nikitich Krylov (born Aug. 9 [22], 1902, in the village of Shchelkunovo, in present-day Tula Oblast), and Nikolai Aleksandrovich Sokolov (born July 8 [21], 1903, in Moscow).

The Kukryniksy were students at the Moscow Vkhutemas-Vkhutein (State Higher Arts and Technical Studios-Higher Art and Technical Institute) between 1921 and 1929. They became members of the Academy of Arts of the USSR in 1947 and were named People’s Artists of the USSR in 1958. As satirists the Kukryniksy have occupied a leading place among Soviet artists and are known worldwide.

The Kukryniksy began their collaboration in 1924, creating caricatures based primarily on the lives and works of writers. M. Gorky, who met the artists in 1931 and recognized the great potential of their satiric talent, advised them to broaden their range of topics and to draw on themes from life both within the country and abroad. Beginning in 1925 the work of the Kukryniksy appeared in several newspapers and magazines, including Pravda and Krokodil. In close collaboration with the journalists, the Kukryniksy developed a new type of caricature, distinguished by topicality, biting satire, and exaggerated stunning characterization (for example, the series Transport, india ink, 1933–34; Trash, tempera, india ink, gouache, and other media, 1959–60).

The caricatures, posters, and the Okna TASS (TASS posters) created by the Kukryniksy during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 played a great role in the patriotic upbringing of the Soviet people. These wartime works, for example, We Will Mercilessly Rout and Annihilate The Enemy! (1941), combined heroism and devastating sarcasm in symbolically generalized images.

The postwar satire of the Kukryniksy, which pillories warmongers and the enemies of peace and socialism, has been political in nature (for example, Warmongers, india ink, 1953–57). The Kukryniksy were awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1942 and the Lenin Prize in 1965 for their political caricatures and posters. Since the beginning of their collaboration, the satirists have also done much work in the art of the cartoon.

Since the 1920’s the Kukryniksy have worked as illustrators, approaching literary works with a profound understanding of the author’s language and of the distinctive features of the period being described. The scope of their illustrative work is extremely wide, from trenchant grotesque to lyrical, painterly images. Their illustrations include those for Il’f and Petrov’s The Twelve Chairs (india ink, 1933 and 1967) and The Little Golden Calf (india ink and water-color, 1971); Saltykov-Shchedrin’s The Golovlev Family (india ink, 1939); Chekhov’s The Lady With the Dog (1940–46; State Prize of the USSR, 1947, black watercolor); M. Gorky’s Life ofKlim Samgin (1933, black watercolor); Foma Gordeev (1948–49; State Prize of the USSR, 1950, black water-color), and The Mother (1950; State Prize of the USSR, 1951, black watercolor); and Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1949–52, black watercolor).

In their easel paintings the Kukryniksy strive for the expression of broad political statements; at the same time, they have developed the traditions of Russian realist art and sometimes have used certain devices from their own satirical graphic art. They have turned to historical subjects, for example, the series The Old Masters (1936–37, Tret’iakov Gallery). The Kukryniksy exposed fascism in the works The Flight of the Fascists From Novgorod (1944–46, Russian Museum, Leningrad), The End (1947–48; State Prize of the USSR, 1949; Tret’iakov Gallery), and Accusation: The War Criminals and Their Defenders at the Nuremburg Trials (1967, Tret’iakov Gallery). They de-voted a considerable number of their works to the theme of the Soviet people’s heroism during the Great Patriotic War (for example, Tania, 1942–47, Tret’iakov Gallery).

The working method of the Kukryniksy is unique. Striving for a single, kukryniksy style, they combine their individual gifts in a collective creative process. They also work individually as portraitists and landscapists. They have been awarded Orders of Lenin, the Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and various medals. P. N. Krylov was named a Hero of Socialist Labor in 1972, and N. A. Sokolov and M. V. Kupriianov, in 1973.

REFERENCES

Gorky, M. Sobr. soch., vol. 26. Moscow, 1953. Pages 233–35.
Demosfenova, G. L. Kukryniksy. Moscow, 1960.
Sokolova, N. I. Kukryniksy. Moscow, 1962.