VITEBSK ART SCHOOL (part 1)
Nikolay Gugnin. From the history of the Vitebsk art school.
In the late 1910s, the paths of many famous artists of the 20th century converged in the provincial city of Vitebsk. They were very different in their views on art, in belonging to one or another artistic movement, and the circumstances that brought them to Vitebsk were different. But all of them were united by the idea of creating the Vitebsk professional art school, now celebrating its seventy-five years. And this small (1918-1923 gg.) Period of time in its history became its first chapter, dramatic and vibrant.
The magic of the names of M. Chagall, M. Dobuzhinsky, V. Ermolaeva, L. Lisitsky, K. Malevich, R. Falk and other artists and educators – in that quality they performed in Vitebsk in those years – encourages contemporary art criticism to increasingly bold definitions of this phenomenon. The catchy name “Vitebsk Renaissance” has already gained life. With cautious sympathy for this kind of art metaphors, it should nevertheless be noted that the reevaluation of art history in recent decades has strikingly enlarged the significance of the processes taking place in Vitebsk in 1918-1923 in the general picture of the development of the avant-garde. A powerful optimistic charge, incredible aspiration for the future and real achievements made the “Vitebsk period” in the work of a number of avant-garde masters an important component of world art of the 20th century.
Sometimes a myth is born easier and faster than real historical research, but this does not mean at all that the first can be replaced by the second or the second denies the first; completeness of comprehension presupposes both principles; both of them help to create a deeper and multidimensional picture of the phenomenon. The mythological element has its origin in recollections and retelling, and among professional researchers of the problem L. Zhadova, N. Apchinskaya, M. Bessonova, G. Kazovsky A. Kamensky, A. Shatskikh, B. Krepak, E. Kichin, L. Nalivaiko, V. Shamshura … and their number is growing.
The question has its own background. The origins of the Vitebsk School were an interesting artist, brought up on the tradition of late mobility, and an outstanding teacher Yuri (Yehuda) Moiseevich Pan (1854-1937). After graduating from the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts in 1886, Yu. Peng stopped in Novo-Aleksandrovsk, Dvinsk, Riga (all in the North-Western Territory) in search of work, worked for several years in the estate of Baron Korf in Kreizburg. G. Kazovsky in his book “Artists of Vitebsk. (Yehuda Peng and his students) ”cites, although without documentary evidence, an interesting version of establishing ties between Peng and the cultural circles of Vitebsk through the mediation of I. Repin, who had a cottage near Zdravnevo (Zdravnevo), who knew Peng from the Academy of Arts and was flattering who spoke of his work.
In 1896 or 1897 Yu. Peng settles in Vitebsk and opens a private studio, which can be considered the first art educational institution in Belarus. For a long time, the opening date of the Pan school remained a debatable issue until a document was found in the national archive of the Republic of Belarus: “The school for drawing of a non-class artist of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Arts Yudel Pan. According to the testimony of the Vitebsk governor of November 19, 1897, No. 6973 was opened that year. ”
Yu Pan’s school opened the way to professional art for many young talents; over the years, his students were M. Chagall, O. Tsadkin, O. Meshchaninov, A. Pan, L. Lisitsky, S. Yudovin, D. Yakerson, Z. Azgur , E. Minin and many others. In fact, it was through the many years of dedicated efforts of Yu.Peng that the fertile soil was created on which the tree of the art school could grow. Since mid-1919, M. Chagall invited his teacher to lead the workshop at the People’s Art School, and the master’s studio becomes a kind of branch of the school. (5) And in the autumn of 1922, at the time of a deep crisis at the Vitebsk Art and Practice Institute, Yu. Peng was elected vice-rector for education and a member of the board. Leaving the fall of 1923 as a pedagogical work in an educational institution, Yu. Peng, until his tragic death on the night of March 1, 1937, continued on a more modest scale classes with young people in his workshop on Gogolevskaya Street.
Marc Chagall enrolled in Pan’s school in his twentieth year of life (autumn 1906 – winter 1907), then continued his studies in St. Petersburg, where N. Roerich, then L. Bakst and M. Dobuzhinsky became his teachers. In the fall of 1910, he left for Paris….