Illustration for N.A.Ostrovsky's book 'How the Steel Was Tempered'. 1947.

Since the 1930s and 1940s Pakhomov illustrated books of N. A. Ostrovsky, I.S. Turgenev, N. A. Nekrasov, or Lenin tales in children's magazines Siskin and Hedgehog. The style of his work changed: the local patch and silhouette replaced with bright and dynamic line, and fine stroking. His "graphic painting" was replaced with "painting graphics".

To attain a new goal in book design, Pakhomov chose the life-sketching technique, with rare use of color. He strove for personalization, drawing the viewer's attention to the facial expression and gestures of his characters. With linear drawing, the artist created images that appeared as charged with emotion and spontaneity but were devoid of psychological content. His illustrations for books of Maykovsky and Marshak in the late 1930s and early 1940s lack the previous clear perception of the environment and innovatory characters. Children in Pakhomov's works think and feel identically, despite the precise portraiture.

To the Hospital. 1942.

The Great Patriotic war 1941-1945 caught the artist in Leningrad besieged by the enemy. Along with a few graphic artists in the beleaguered city, Pakhomov proceeded with his creative work, producing a set of lithographs entitled Leningrad Besieged. However, while preliminary drawings are vivid and expressive, lithographs look dry and almost bombastic. The 1942-43 posters from the sketches are more harmonious.

In the climate of postwar advance and public enthusiasm for reconstruction in Leningrad, Pakhomov produced the set of lithographs In Our City (1944-46). The good spirits and optimistic motivations are reflected in his sketches of the people, streets and buildings in the city. The plates gain characteristic dynamism with unusual perspectives and boldly foreshortened figures. The prestigious State Award for the sets stimulated further works demonstrating Soviet achievements.

 Music Lesson. 1958.

Between the 1950s and 1970s, the final period in his life and work, Pakhomov deliberately chose plain everyday stories, avoiding big and complex tasks. He preferred women in collective farms, physicians or teachers engaged in routine tasks. Due to unbiased illustrative style and conventional artistic techniques, Pakhomov's later work seems similar to that of many other Soviet artists. However, the keen vision and neat arrangement betray a genuine master of his art. The children presented to us by Pakhomov are still affecting and natural. His illustration for works of S. V. Mikhalkov, V. A. Oseeva, L. N. Tolstoy in 1950-1970 demonstrate both fine vision and striking knowledge in child psychology. Books illustrated by Pakhomov served as the first life guides for several generations of children. The memorable characters of children's books introduced them to the world of prose and poetry of the Soviet period.

Pakhomov's works from the Librarys collections, shown at the exhibition, present his life story as a series of several important stages of the artistic development. The exhibition contains an outstanding display of posters and lithographs from the Print Department Collections, drawings from the Manuscript Department Holdings, books and periodicals from the Russian-language Book Collection and the Russian-language Collection of Periodicals.


Natalia Melnikova


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