Geli Mikhailovich Korzhev (b.1925), one of the most influential and innovative Realists of the the last 60 years, died Monday in Moscow. A student of Sergei Gerasimov at the Surikov Institute in Moscow, Korzhev was a product of the most rigorous and vibrant years of Soviet Realism. After graduating, he became a professor at the Stroganov University of Arts and Industry, where he taught until his death. Korzhev was one of the central innovators of the Severe Style – a branch of official Soviet art that took advantage of the relaxed censorship following Stalin’s death to focus on more personal (less political) subject matter. Korzhev’s paintings of age, alcoholism, and physical and mental suffering are some of the most powerful, personal depictions of Soviet life I’ve ever seen.
Fortunately for us Americans, the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis holds some of his work. In 2007 they held a major exhibition of loaned pieces from the Russian Museum and Tretyakov Gallery, which was written up very thoroughly here.