Isaak Izraelovich BRODSKI

Brodski drawing Lenin at the 3rd Congress of Komintern, Moscow 1921.

Born in Sofievka, Ekaterinoslav pr (Ukraine), 1883(1884). Studied at Odessa Drawing School/Art College 1896(95?)-1902; Imperial ACADEMY OF ARTS 1902-08. Active in St.Petersburg/Petrograd/Leningrad (travelled in Western Europe 1909-11). Began exhibiting 1904. Member of UNION OF RUSSIAN ARTISTS from 1910; KUINDZHI SOCIETY 1910s; AKhRR 1923-28. Exhibited with Imperial ACADEMY OF ARTS 1904-16; UNION OF RUSSIAN ARTISTS 1907-18; MOLKh 1908-09; WORLD OF ART 1911; TYuRKh; ITINERANTS 1914, 1916; COMMUNE OF ARTISTS 1920s; AKhRR 1925-28, REPIN SOCIETY; KUINDZHI SOCIETY 1929. Important shows include first IZDEBSKI SALON 1909-10; "ARTISTS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION OVER FIFTEEN YEARS"; Leningrad, 1932; "ARTISTS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION OVER FIFTEEN YEARS", Moscow, 1933; "Fifteen Years of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army", Moscow, 1933; "Twenty Years of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army", Moscow, 1938; "INDUSTRY OF SOCIALISM", Moscow, 1939. Specialised in landscapes and portraits before October 1917 revolution; painted many portraits of the political leaders 1920s-30s. Well-known works include The ceremonial Opening of the IInd Congress of the IIIrd KomIntern (1920-24; Historical Museum, Moscow); "The execution by Firing-Squad of the 26 Baku Commissars (1925; Baku Art Museum); several pictures of Lenin, notably Lenin in Smolny (1930; Historical Museum Moscow); Portrait of Gorki (1937; Tretyakov Gallery). Taught at INSTITUTE OF PAINTING, SCULPTURE AND ARCHITECTURE 1932-39 (rector 1934-39). Awarded order of Lenin 1934. Decorated festivals in Petrograd 1918. Officially-celebrated first-wave socialist realist painter; exponent of a highly-finished style; one of three painters who took tea with Stalin in summer of 1933; assembled a large collection of Russian and West European art. Died in Leningrad 1939.
(Matthew Cullerne Bown: Russian and Soviet Painters. Ilomar, London)

"Vladimir Ilich Lenin", oil on cardboard, 1924.

Brodsky was a forefather of Socialist Realism, famous for his iconic portayals of Lenin and his idealized, carefully crafted paintings dedicated to the events of the Civil War and Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. From 1902 to 1908, he studied with the great genre and history painter Ilya Repin at the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg. Brodsky was known before the Revolution for his observant salon portraits and landscapes, exhibiting from 1904 with the Wanderers and the World of Art. Throughout his career, he maintained the academy standards he absorbed as a student; thus he was able to reinstate tradtional methods and style s of painting at he reformed All-Russian Academy od Arts, Leningrad. Throughout his career, Brodsky openly acknowledged his Jewish heritage, and he was briefly involved in activities of the Jewish renaissance. In 1916, he became a member of the Jewish Society for the Encouragement of the Arts in Petrograd, contributing to both the Petrograd Exhibition of Jewish Artists and the Moscow Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture by Jewish Artists in 1917-18. Mentioning incidents of pre-Revolution-ary anti-Semitism in his memoirs, he achnowledged the Soviet regime for recognizing him and his work. A member of AKhRR from 1924 through 1928, Brodsky painted numerous sympathetic portraits of Lenin from life and had no difficulty conforming to Bolshevik dictates.Ambitious in scale, composition, and theme, these portraits were regarded as landmarks. Their meticulous execution, based on research, sketches from life, and documentary photographs (a technique labeled "Brodsky-ism" by the artist's critics) caused Brodsky to be ejected from the AKhRR even though he was highly regarded by Stalin and members of the arts administration. During the 1930s he contributed to numerous exhibitions and had several solo shows. In 1932, Brodsky was named Honored Arts Worker of the RSFSR. He was named Professor (1932-39) and then - his final accolade - Director (1934-39) of the All-Russian Academy od Arts, Leningrad. In 1933, Brodsky was invited to join Alexander Gerasimov and Katsman to meet with Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov to discuss the Socialist Realist method. In 1937, Brodsky won a gold medal at the exposition Universelle in Paris. In 1949, his apartment was opened as a memorial museum.
(Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change 1890 - 1990", edited by S.T.Goodman, Prestel, Munich-New York, 1996)

See also:
Hans Dollinger: "Rußland", C.Bertelsmann, München 1977.
Dawn Ades and others: "Kunst und Macht im Europa der Diktatoren 1930 - 1945", Oktagon - Verlag, 1996.
S.T.Goodman (editor): "Russian Jewish Artists in a Century of Change 1890 - 1990", Prestel, Munich-New York, 1996.
Marc Scheps (editor): "Unser Jahrhundert"; Prestel, München-New York, 1996.
Meyers Taschen-Lexikon, B.I.-Taschenbuchverlag, Mannheim-Leipzig-Wien-Zürich, 1995.

"Vladimir Ilich Lenin at the Smolny Institute", oil on canvas, 100 x 160 cm.
Copy of the famous Brodsky-painting by Grigori Efimovich Shpolyanski.

Signature of the artist