Isaak Izrailevich Brodsky is a Russian and Soviet artist of the first third of the 20th century, one of the main representatives of socialist realism and the author of the most famous portraits of Lenin. Isaac Brodsky’s work is in the mainstream of the traditional realistic direction, which is reflected in his work as the director of the All-Russian Academy of Arts. In the Soviet Union, everyone knew the paintings of this painter, since their reproductions were printed in huge quantities – on posters, in textbooks and calendars.
Isaac Brodsky was born on December 25, 1883 in the village of Sofievka near the city of Berdyansk in the territory of modern Ukraine. The boy’s parents were Jews, his father was engaged in agriculture and trade. Isaac received his first education in Berdyansk, then studied at the art school in Odessa. In 1902, as an excellent student, he entered the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts without exams.
Isaac Brodsky became a student of Ilya Repin, with whom he maintained friendly relations for a long time. He borrowed a lot from his teacher – not in technology, but in relation to art and to the artist’s creative tasks. Even during his studies, the young painter gained fame as a portrait painter and as a landscape painter with a special “openwork” style of drawing. Because of his Jewish origin and sympathy for revolutionary events, he was oppressed at the Academy, but some professors stood up for the talented student. With the help of Repin and Arkhip Kuindzhi, he received a scholarship, and then the right to travel abroad.
The artist lived in Europe for several years: first he visited Germany and France, then stayed for a long time in Spain and Italy. The painting “Fairy Tale” created at that time brought the author an award from the Society for the Encouragement of Arts. With the funds received, he traveled to the island of Capri, where he met and became friends with Maxim Gorky.
Isaac Brodsky embraced the October Revolution of 1917 with enthusiasm.
From that moment on, portraits of Soviet leaders and Bolshevik leaders became one of the main themes in his work. He also created monumental works on a historical and revolutionary theme. The authorities loved and appreciated the artist: he was the first to receive the Order of Lenin, and then the Stalin Prize. When the experiments of the avant-garde artists were rejected, Brodsky headed the All-Russian Academy of Arts. He restored the traditional education system and established the foundations of ideological control in the arts.
The artist died on August 14, 1939. He was married twice and had two children in his first marriage. After the collapse of the USSR, his work began to be forgotten, but now interest is returning. Isaac Brodsky is appreciated not only as a talented painter, but also as an enthusiastic collector. During his life, he collected about a thousand works of the best Russian masters, starting with the works of Ilya Repin received during his student years.
The most famous paintings by Isaac Brodsky
Isaac Brodsky’s paintings are distinguished by their expressive drawing and realism. The early works are usually bright and colorful, the later ones with a more restrained flavor. Here are some of the author’s most famous works:
- Winter (1922). Among Brodsky’s landscapes, there are winter views with a multifaceted composition. The artist himself found in them “Bruegel motives”, and modern researchers note the continuation of the Shishkin and Levitan traditions.
- “Inauguration of the II Congress of the Comintern at the Uritsky Palace in Leningrad” (1924). A grandiose work with a complex composition, depicting about 600 real historical figures. Many of them were shot during the years of Stalin’s repressions, and the painting was banned for a long time.
- “Speech by V. I. Lenin at the Putilov factory” (1929). Isaac Brodsky’s traditional work, revealing the connection between the leader and the people. The painting won the main prize at the World Exhibition in Paris.
- “IN. I. Lenin in Smolny “(1930). A canonical portrait of Lenin with a detailed setting that creates a sense of documentary and authenticity of the image.
- “Park Alley” (1930). And in his later work, the author continues to turn to the genre of the lyrical landscape. This work is part of a large cycle of filigree paintings depicting views of city parks.