Alexey Fedorovich
For  the Centenary of His Birth.
Girl with a Cat. 1962.

A.F.Pakhomov's picture.The sixties.

    Alexey Fedorovich Pakhomov (1900-1973)  -   was a splendid graphic artist and master of lithography. His outstanding artistic gift was already evident in family portraits he created when a very young boy. He was much impressed by the cheap popular prints hung in his father's house in Vologda province. In 1915, at an urgent request of the art lover V. lu. Zubov, the young artist was sent to study at Baron Stieglitz's School for Engineering Design in Petrograd. There he was enraptured with plaster cast copying, and gradually gathered strength with Italian pencil and Indian ink.

After the February Revolution several prominent masters like M. V. Dobuzhinsky, S. V. Chekhonin, V. I. Shukhaev were invited to teach in the School. They focused on drawing from life. Chekhonin's advice on making a "fair" arrangement in a single stroke played a great role for young Pakhomov's growing creative skills.

When the School was reorganized as VKhUTEMAS in 1919, the young artist studied with V. V. Lebedev, N. A. Tyrsa, A. E. Karev. Leaders of the Studios adopted French post-impressionistic experiences in a creative manner, shaping the arts in context of the new society. In 1921-23 they established the Association for New Trends in Art with The Four Arts and Artists' Circle groups which Pakhomov joined. His creative strivings at that time involved multiple trends, from Cubism and Sezannism in painting to Functionalism when, following the Industrial Arts motto, the artist went to work at a factory. However, with all his confusing ideas and tasks in art, Pakhomov also paid tribute to the approach employed by Lebedev whose illustrations of children's books and ROSTA Windows posters he regarded as superb creative achievements. It was from Lebedev that Pakhomov inherited his laconic imagery, clear-cut contours and expressive lines. Gradually, the artist moved from painting to drawing.

Since 1925 Pakhomov devoted himself to children's books, along with authors like V. V. Maykovsky, S. la. Marshak, A. L. Barto, E. L. Schwartz, and artists V. M. Konashevich, K. I. Rudakov and V. M. Ermolaeva. The children's theme was not at all accindental in his art: sketching from life, he often pictured children, capturing interesting graphic postures and movements.

Cover of S.Ia.Marshak's book 'The Ball'. 1934.

In the mid-1920s the artist visited pioneer camps, including the Artek. Characteristic features of children's book, natural for the child's mind and eye, made special demands on the artist. Education if a new man in the context of emerging conceptions and ideas determined a new approach to book design.

First experiences with children were represented in his illustrations for works of Marshak, Schwartz, R. Kipling in the late 1920s. Pakhomov's style had much in common with contemporary avant-garde tendencies in art. The artist worked in silhouette, patching, almost inking in, portraying lights and darks in an icon-painting manner. The background was almost invariably indifferent. The master's favorite colors were red, yellow and brown.

In the sunlight. 1935.

In fact, Pakhomov, like many other artists of the time, employed an essentially innovatory approach to children's book illustration. Pictures in books and magazines in the 1910s differed from the ecstatic and refined imagery of the turn of the century. They were dynamic, vivid and contrasting. At the same time, they retained the comprehensive approach to book illustrating typical for the first decade of the century: integrative design involving the cover, illumination and lettering. The pictures were to "live" in the text rather than support it.

Bold subject and color design was typical for Pakhomov's work in the 1930s. The half-naked women and sun-tanned teenagers on the beach contrasted the correct boys and girls painted by artists of Social Realism.

Lithographs provided the final innovatory stroke in his art - Pakhomov was soon transformed as a humble chronicler of Soviet reality.


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