Konenkov, Sergei Timofeevich
Born June 28 (July 10), 1874, in the village of Karakovichi, in present-day El’nia Raion, Smolensk Oblast; died Oct. 9, 1971, in Moscow. Soviet sculptor. Became a member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR in 1954. People’s Artist of the USSR (1958); Hero of Socialist Labor (1964).
Konenkov, the son of peasants, studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture under S. I. Ivanov and S. M. Volnukhin from 1892 to 1896 and at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts from 1899 to 1902 (from 1916, a member). A participant in the World of Art (Mir iskusstva) exhibitions, he was also a member of the Union of Russian Artists.
In Konenkov’s early narrative and genre works (The Stone Hammerer, bronze, 1898, Tret’iakov Gallery), he depicted the difficult life of the Russian people and their drive to fight for freedom. This striving is also evident in several of his later works, which are characterized by an artistic search for monumental, generalized images (Samson, plaster of paris, 1902, not preserved).
Having participated in the revolutionary events of 1905 in Moscow, Konenkov sculpted several generalized and symbolic portraits of people involved in the revolution (Ivan Churkin’Worker-Fighter of 1905, 1906, Museum of the Revolution of the USSR, Moscow; The Atheist, sandstone, 1906, F. V. Sychkov Mordovian Picture Gallery, Saransk).
Beginning around 1905, Konenkov’s work was noted primarily for the use of motifs from Russian folk wood sculpture and of images from folklore and fairy tales (Stribog, wood, 1910, Tret’iakov Gallery; Eruslan Lazarevich, wood, 1913, Serpukhov History and Art Museum). Konenkov also incorporated into his work the theme of the classically perfect, harmonious man’a theme that was reminiscent of classical and Renaissance art but also closely tied in with the artist’s search for national aesthetic and ethical ideals (Nike, 1906; The Young Girl, 1916—both in marble, in the Tret’iakov Gallery). During this period, Konenkov also sculpted a number of portraits and portrait compositions of great musicians of the past, including Bach (marble, 1910, the N. F. Mikuli collection, Moscow) and Paganini (several variants).
During the first years of Soviet power, Konenkov helped to implement the plan of monument propaganda (the use of monuments as a means of propaganda). V. I. Lenin was present at the unveiling of Konenkov’s memorial plaque To Those Killed in Action in the Struggle for Peace and Brotherhood of Peoples (colored cement, 1918, Russian Museum, Leningrad). Konenkov also did the sculptural group Stepan Razin and His Throng (wood, 1918–19, Russian Museum).
Between 1924 and 1945, Konenkov lived in the United States, where he primarily sculpted portraits (A. M. Gorky, bronze, 1928, Gorky Museum, Moscow; /. P. Pavlov, plaster of paris, 1930, Russian Museum; F. M. Dostoevsky, plaster of paris, 1933, Russian Museum). From the late 1940’s to 1970 he executed a large number of portraits marked by psychological insight and completeness of modeling; these portraits include Ninochka (1951, Russian Museum), Nicos Beloyannis (1951, A. N. Radishchev Saratov Art Museum), M. P. Mussorgsky (1953, Gorky Art Museum), and Self-portrait (1954, Tret’iakov Gallery; Lenin Prize, 1957)-—all executed in marble. During this period, Konenkov created a number of small-scale and monumental sculptures (The Free Man[Samsori], plaster of paris, 1947, Russian Museum; the sculptural groups and reliefs at the Theater of Music and Drama in Petrozavodsk, cement and bronze, 1953–54). A recipient of the State Prize of the USSR in 1951, Konenkov was also awarded two Orders of Lenin and a medal.
WORKSSlovo k molodym. Moscow, 1958.
REFERENCESKamenskii, A. Konenkov. [Moscow] 1962.
Kravchenko, K. S. T. Konenkov. [Moscow, 1967.]
A. A. KAMENSKII