Soviet Russian artist Yuri Vasnetsov

The cat went to the market, bought a pie
The cat went to the market, bought a pie

Soviet Russian artist Yuri Vasnetsov (1900-1973) is widely known in Russia as the illustrator of children books. Russian painter, stage designer and illustrator Yuri Vasnetsov was born March 22, 1900, in the family of a priest in Vyatka (now Kirov) region. In 1919 he graduated from the former Vyatka men’s gymnasium. In 1921 he moved to Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), where he studied at the Art Institute. Vasnetsov wanted to be a painter, and sought to acquire all the skills needed to work in painting. Discovery and study of the principles of Cubism was fun for him, and he went, on the advice of Lebedev, for new knowledge to Malevich, where he studied about two years.

It had become a time of discovery for Vasnetsov – new principles of composition and the imaging of the object on the canvas or paper, scenic value of invoices, the role of contrast in the form of construction, plastic space laws. Not accidental that the artist loved black color, not paint, but color.

Magpie with a white side
Magpie with a white side

Paintings by Yuri Vasnetsov

Paintings made ​​during this period by Vasnetsov: Counter-Relief “Still Life with a chessboard”, 1926-1927; “Cubist composition”, 1926-28, “Composition with pipe” 1926-1928; “Still. In the workshop of Malevich” 1927-1928; “Composition with violin” in 1929, and others.

In 1928, the art editor of the publishing house for children “Detgiz” V.V. Lebedev invited Vasnetsov to work on the children’s book. The first books illustrated by Vasnetsov were “Karabash” (1929) and “Swamp” by V. Bianchi. Having joined “Detgiz” (Children Publisher) Yuri Vasnetsov quickly found his place. He preferred to work on a fairy tale, folklore, folk rhymes. His best books live in two dimensions of real and fantastic, the most mundane things become in them a fabulous character, the most improbable events become easily acceptable. “Raven sits on the oak and plays the pipe” – requires a special gift to this verbal way to make visible and, moreover, as compelling as in a fairy tale.

Children's fairy tale illustrated by Yuri Vasnetsov

Book illustrator

The books for children designed by Vasnetsov repeatedly had mass circulation, “Confusion” (1934) and “The Stolen Sun” (1958) by K. Chukovsky, “Three Bears” by Leo Tolstoy (1935), “The Mansion” (1941) and “Cat House” (1947) by Marshak, “English folk song” translated by Marshak (1945), “The cat, rooster and fox. Russian Fairy Tale” (1947), and many others. He illustrated “The Little Humpbacked Horse” by P. Ershov, books for children by D.N. Mamin – Sibiryak, A. Prokofiev and other publications. Children’s books illustrated by Vasnetsov have become classics of Soviet art.

Children's fairy tale illustrated by Yuri Vasnetsov

Vasnetsov so easily and naturally puts us over the edge of the real that we do not even notice the last step has transferred us into the world of the fantastic relationship. It seems that the credibility of the source of fabulous images of Vasnetsov concluded that the imagination of the artist does not act arbitrarily, and the laws of the fabulous fine logic, which is inherent in folklore: The same shift in the view, the same interweaving of reality and fiction.

In his drawings connected innocence and wisdom, trust in the world of simple things, simple human feelings and actions, where good – is really good, and never turns evil. In the fairy-tale world Vasnetsov’s animals have human characters adjusted for animal nature: wolf is fierce and far off; Goat is obstinate; Cockerel is snobbish, dashing and stupid; fox is insinuating and insidious; dog – is watchdog – an honest worker, and the bear is scary -looking, in fact innocent and kind.


In the same 1930 Yuri Vasnetsov continued work on the painting. In the summer of 1931 along with the artist N.I. Kostrov toured to the White Sea, the village Soroki, where he drew and painted a lot of oil. It was gratifying nature – severe fishermen, boats, quivering fish just taken out of the nets. Vasnetsov’s palette becomes more dense, restrained in color; painting reduced to a single scale, complex, rich in variety of shades.

1932 he became a member of the Leningrad branch of the Union of Soviet Artists. In 1932, Vasnetsov was accepted into the graduate faculty at the Russian Academy of Arts, where he studied for three years. In the thirties, Vasnetsov’s painting achieves a high skill, acquires a distinctive, unique character. He finds his way.

In 1934 Yuri Vasnetsov married the artist Galina Pinaeva, in 1937 and in 1939 were born two daughters, Elizaveta and Natalia.

In 1941 Yuri Vasnetsov was part of a collective of artists and poets “Fighting Pencil”. At the end of 1941 was evacuated to Perm. In 1943, he moved from Perm to Zagorsk. Worked as chief designer of the Research Institute of toys. Created a series of landscapes. At the end of 1945 he returned to Leningrad.

1946 Yuri Vasnetsov received the title of Honored Artist of the RSFSR. In 1966 he received the title of People’s Artist of the RSFSR. In 1971, Vasnetsov was awarded the State Prize of the USSR for two collections of Russian folk tales “Ladushki” and “Rainbow – arc”.

1960-70s Vasnetsov mainly worked on landscapes and still lifes, but because of accusations of formalism, did not exhibit his works. They were exhibited after his death. Yuri Vasnetsov died May 3, 1973. Buried in St. Petersburg at the Bogoslovsk cemetery.

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