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 Vasily Golubev  (1925 - 1985)

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Lived/Active: Russian Federation      Known for: abstraction

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from Auction House Records.
Mountain Road
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Vasili Golubev (1925-1985)

Vasily Golubev, among the most outstanding Russian expressionist artists of the 20th century, undoubtedly worthy to occupy an honored place in the history of art.  Modest, focused within himself, introverted, preferring to spend all his time out in the open air, Golubev had no interest in self-representation or any of the social and political manifestations which were obligatory in official art.  Thus it was that official art saw him as an outsider, as something alien: Golubev never produced a single commissioned portrait. He was seen, in the best Russian tradition, almost as being holy, as someone not of this world.  If he had been part of the cultural elite this brilliant exponent of post-Impressionism would have been seen as Western-oriented, a cosmopolitan – in itself a dangerous category, but he was instead a man of simple peasant roots, a man “of the earth”, and could hardly be suspected of such Western leanings.  He learned the lessons of Impressionism and then post-Impressionism independently and they made their appearance as the fruit of his own development.  In the face of this incontrovertible fact, the powers-that-be preferred simply to ignore his work.

Golubev was born in 1925 in Medvezhe, a village in the Soligalich Area of Kostroma Region, in the very heart of Northern Russia.  A desire to study and learn brought the village boy to Leningrad, but his studies at Leningrad Art School were broken off by the war: he graduated only in 1951.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s he developed along the lines of classical Russian Realism, gradually mastering the emotional potential of plein air painting of the kind so powerfully manifested in Russian painting from the end of the 19th century.  His landscapes from this period echo those of Isaak Levitan – these are melancholy, contemplative images of rural Russia.  Golubev found his way towards an Impressionist understanding of color, his landscapes becoming more painterly, the lyrical descriptive mood replaced by a manner in which color came to play an active, central role, and eventually became symbolic.  From the early 1970s Golubev was entirely dedicated to the principles of post-Impressionism, of which he had created his own, original Russian version.  His energetic impasto, the free and open brushstrokes, the disturbing colour harmonies gave the traditionally intimate central Russian landscape drama and a new, penetrating content.

Golubev lived at a time of isolation in terms of the information available: during his time as a student it was impossible to gain normal objective information about all the latest trends in art.  Thus it was that he was forced to lay the foundation stones of that art – Impressionism and post-Impressionism – absolutely independently.  And thanks to that independence, that personal experience, to his serious self-renunciation, his development is far removed from any repetition of the past: as he made his way along the historical path already traveled in art, he found his own energy, his own inimitable intonation.  Poor in mere biographical data, the essence of Golubev’s life was richly reflected in his paintings.

Dr. Alexander Borovsky
Head of 20th Century and Contemporary Art
State Russian Museum

Information provided by Kenneth Puschkin

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