Yuri Kugach


Yuri Kugach

Yuri Petrovich Kugach was born March 21, 1917 in the Old Russian city of Suzdal, located in the Vladimir region. In 1931 his studies in art began at the "1905" Moscow Art School. In 1934 the school established a painting department which afforded Yuri the opportunity to study under the great Nikolai Petrovich Krymov. In 1936 Yuri moved on to study at the Moscow Art Institute (known today as the Surikov). Once in attendance at the Institute, Kugach skipped directly to the second year and studied under the highly revered I.E. Grabar and S.V. Gerasimov. While studying painting at the Surikov, Yuri fell in love with one of his fellow classmates Olga Grigoryevna Svetlichnaya. In 1937 the two exquisite artists were married. The couple was blessed in 1939 with a son Mikhail, who would later carry on the artistic tradition of his parents. In 1942 Yuri graduated from the Institute and from 1948 to 1951 he taught at the Surikov. In 1943 Yuri Kugach and 11 other academically accomplished artists (including his wife Olga Svetlichnaya) were evacuated to Samarkand, Uzbekistan for the duration of the war. It looked like Moscow might fall to the Germans so the Soviet government decided to evacuate their most promising artists who they saw as cultural assets. He participated in the creation of the eminently important state commission of the painting Leading Individuals in the Kremlin along with V.P. Efanovii, S.I. Dudnik, and V.G.Tsyplakov. Yuri was elected "Academician" in 1975.

After 1950, Yuri and Olga moved to the countryside of the Tver region. The couple lived in close proximity to the Academicheskaya Dacha (House of Artists of Russia). Numerous famous artists, including Repin and Levitan, were notorious for visiting and painting this beautiful countryside. Scenes of village and family life became the predominant subject of both Yuri and Olga's work. They were driven by the principle that "[art] is only strong when it is national" and a nation is made up of its people. What better way to create works of national eminence than to depict the nation's people. The decision to take up residence in the country was also to allow his wife to paint beautiful works unfettered by the commercial world. Yuri loved his wife dearly and valued her painting as high, if not higher than, his own. Their son Mikhail remembers his father saying that he would play the career enhancing political games. He would become famous and earn the family income so that his wife could spend her life just painting great paintings. After the war, Yuri was honored with a teaching and tutoring position at the Academicheskaya Dacha School for artists. Yuri is the founder and a member of the Moscow River School, a school steeped in the academic tradition. Great emphasis lies on capturing a sense of atmosphere as well as the accurate depiction of space. One of the primary messages he impressed upon his students was "Do not repeat our mistakes". Yuri Kugach is recognized in Russia as one of their greatest artists of the 20th century. He passed away on April 23, 2013.

Exhibitions partial list

Awards:(partial list)

Full member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR
Gold medal of the USSR Academy of Arts, 1966
People's Artist of the USSR
Russia's artist-statesman, 1963
Stalin Prize, 1940 & 1950
the Repin State Prize
the USSR State Prize

Exhibitions:(partial list)

1977, Solo-exhibition in Japan

2004, Yuri Kugach, Lyrcist of Russian Art, Springfield Museum of Art, Utah

2009, Kugach, Kugach, Kugach, Three Generations of Artists, American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center

2009, The Russian Art Fair, London, England

Since 1943, Every major All-Union exhibit

Collections:(partial list)

An entire hall dedicated to his work at the New Tretyakov Gallery

Museums in Gorky, Rostov, Irkutsk, Kharkov, Kiev, Taganrog & Lvov

Nizhni-Novgorod Art Museum
In the Family (First Steps), 1969, Oil on Canvas, 55 x 63 in

Overland Gallery of Fine Art
Blooming Bird Cherry, 1961, Oil on Board, 21 1/2 x 27 1/4 in

RSFSR Ministry of Culture, Moscow
Mistress of the House, 1970, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 110 cm

Regional Art Gallery, Tver
Saturday Evening, 1964, Oil on Canvas, 130 x 200 cm

Russia Artists' Union
Wedding, 2000, Oil on Canvas, 185 x 320 cm

Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
Hostess, 1970, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 110 cm

State Art Museum of the Altai Region, Barnaul
Moscow Street in XVII Century, 1950's, Oil on Canvas, 130 x 170 cm

State Museum of Art of the Uzbek SSR

Sumi Art Museum
Before the Holiday, 1962, Oil on Canvas, 49 x 75 in

Tretyakov Gallery
Before Dancing, 1961, Oil on Canvas, 160 x 290 cm

Tver Picture Gallery
On Saturday, 1964, Oil on Canvas, 51 x 79 in

Catalogues:(partial list)
1997 Communication of Times; Dynasty of Artists, published by the Association of Artists

Books:(partial list)
The Connection of Times, Covering the works of Yuri, Olga, Mikhail, Ivan, and Ekaterina Kugach

Pages of Memoirs, Covering the works of Yuri and Mikhail Kugach also the work of Vlaymir Filipov and Boris Petrenko

Russia - Motherland, Covering the works of Yuri and Mikhail Kugach Published in 2006 by Istoki Publishing House

1983 Yuri Petrovich Kugach, published by the Artists' RSFSR

1998 Socialist Realist Painting, by Matthew Cullerne Bown, pp.424,448,&449 Before the Holiday, On Saturday, In the Family (First Steps)

Artist Thoughts:

"Do not repeat our mistakes."

"In the art of our period, it's quite natural that artists depicted labor not as a curse, but regarded labor as a necessity - a human necessity, natural and full of life."

"The main thing is poetry. This is the essence of all my work. A real artist doesn't paint what he sees. He paints what he wants to see. Those who want to see dirt, see dirt. At all times, some people want to see bad things and some want to see good things."