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Ivan Godlevsky and Russian impressionism


From the 7 of October the Raphael Hall of the Art Academy’s Research Museum will host an exhibition of works by Ivan Godlevsky, a graduate of the Art Academy and a favorite student of a professor and an artist A.A. Osmerkin. The exhibition is curated by Vladimir Kaplunov, an expert in the art of 20th century.

‘For one the creative work is a torture;

for another it is the essence of life and an

opportunity to experience happiness’

Ivan Godlevsky

 

Ivan Godlevsky was born in 1908 in Dobromerichi town (a former Polish land). His parents died at the World War I so the boy was adopted by the duchesses Vinyanimova in Moscow. After the October revolution Ivan was brought up in a house for orphan children.

Since his early years the artist had shown a keen interest in art. In 1926 he graduated from the Mirgorod Art College and enrolled in the Kiev Art Academy. One of the most famous artists of that time Nikolay Krichevsky noticed the young talent and guided his artistic development. After finishing the Art Academy the artist served in the national army until the year of 1935-1936, when, thanks to the artistic high quality of his works, he was accepted at the Leningrad Art Academy, without any exams. His mentor was Aleksandr Osmerkin, a prominent Soviet painter with who Ivan were friends until the teacher died. The World War II had started just before the artist finished his diploma painting for the Academy. The artist served throughout the war, was honored and returned back in Leningrad in 1946. Eventually, in 1949 Ivan was able to graduate the Academy and right after that he became a teacher at the College of the Industrial Design and Art (better known as ‘Mukha’). In the same year the artist became a member and the head of the Leningrad branch of the Union of the Artists. Being a member of the official political party, an honored war veteran and a teacher at the prestigious art institute Ivan Godlevsky could have made a fantastic career. However, being extremely honest with oneself and towards the art, he never betrayed his personal moral as well as artistic principles. In 1956 the artist got paid for an official commission and resigned from a teacher’s position; now he was able to completely devote his life to painting.

Already during the 1950s the artist developed his unique impressionistic style of painting, bright and recognizable, which he followed until the end of his life. In 1961 the first solo exhibition of Ivan’s works took place. Even though the press was full of accusations of the artistic formal approach and the artist’s French taste, to get inside the buildings’ rather small halls people had to stand in lines on the streets: so popular and loved was the artist. After the artist took part in an exhibition, which was demolished because of not following official socialistic art trends, his wife took the paintings to avoid a possible conflict with authorities.

For celebrating the 80 years anniversary in 1988 Ivan Godlevsky had an idea to organize a personal exhibition in the halls of the Union of the Artists in Leningrad. It was already a good tradition for artists to celebrate their 80th anniversary by having a solo exhibition there. However, this never happened to Ivan Godlevsky: when the artist insisted on his own and non-official style of works the head of the Union rejected his works noting ‘we do not want your works then.’

In 1990 in France an auction took place where 148 works by the artist were sold: French people loved the art of Ivan Godlevsky. The artist stayed in France and continued creating art works there. Later the artist’s solo exhibitions were held in France, Spain, Germany, Switzeland, Belgium, Holland and Sweden. In 1996 the artist returned to St. Petersburg; in 1998 he passed away.

The exhibition is open until the 25th of October, 2015

 

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