Kuindzhi Arkhip Ivanovich
Arkhip Ivanovich Kuindzhi is one of the most prominent artists in the history of Russian landscape painting. The author of the most popular paintings went through a thorny creative path from a self-taught artist to an artist-teacher. His life combined the features of the typical fate of a person from a nation and the unique biography of a gifted person.
The extraordinary figure Kuindzhi has become legendary in the eyes of contemporaries. Subsequently, the interest in him of domestic art historians is constantly increasing. However, to this day the life and activities of the famous landscape painter are fraught with many mysteries.
The year of birth, the origin of the family name, estate, information about relatives – all this has not yet received unambiguous historical coverage. The artist was born, most likely, in 1842. Kuindzhi’s childhood was connected with the Tatar suburb of Mariupol – Karasevka. The village was located on a hill, from where a wide view of the flooded coasts of the ancient Kalki River and the Sea of Azov opened. The appearance of unlimited panoramic landscapes in the works of the landscape painter is apparently connected with these children’s impressions.
Kuindzhi was left without parents early, which predetermined the difficulties of his life path. Not having received full school education, in 1854 he already worked on the construction of the Roman Catholic Church in Mariupol. The twelve-year-old boy surprised everyone around with his drawings in the workbook and, especially, on the walls of the master kitchen, which served him as a place to sleep. The temple was erected at the expense of Italian bread-makers, who helped develop the artistic abilities of a promising young man. Having handed Kuinji letters of recommendation, they sent him to study in Feodosia to IK Aivazovsky. There novice artist spent several months. The direct communication between young Kuindzhi and Aivazovsky was reduced to auxiliary tasks: he rubbed paint or repainted the fence. Nevertheless, this trip approved the intention of the future painter to devote his life to the visual arts.
A close acquaintance with the works of the famous singer of the sea had a noticeable influence on the choice of scenes from the first easel works by Kuinji. According to fragmentary information, we can assume that after working as a retoucher in Mariupol and Odessa, in the mid-1860s, Arkhip Ivanovich found himself again in the homeland of Aivazovsky in Feodosia and wrote the sea coast there from nature. One of the paintings created at that time was shown shortly after Kuindzhi appeared in Petersburg, at an academic exhibition. The first years of life in St. Petersburg were marked by an active rapprochement of the beginning painter with the democratic ideas of artistic and creative youth. The works created by Kuindzhi in the first half of the 1870s stand somewhat apart in his work. While maintaining a commitment to spectacular forms of the image, to the transfer of the emotional state of nature, the artist combined a romantic perception of reality with a naturalistic approach to writing the details of the landscape. The mood of these works was determined by the harsh exotic of northern nature; there were notes of sadness in the panoramas of deprived villages.
Further, in the work of Kuindzhi there were important changes that were of a crucial nature. In 1876 he painted the picture “Ukrainian Night”. She did not leave indifferent neither professionals nor art lovers. In the paintings “Ukrainian Night” and “Evening in Ukraine”, Kuinji demonstrated the merits of his painting style. Thanks to a rethinking of the artistic arsenal of the romantic landscape, he sought to maximize poetization of the familiar Ukrainian landscapes.
Kuinji’s perseverance was rewarded by the resounding success of his works at the VII exhibition of the Association of the Wanderers in 1879. The monumental canvas “North” was unanimously perceived as the completion of a theme that appeared in Kuinji’s work in the early 1870s. The greatest interest of visitors to the seventh exhibition of the Association of the Wanderers was caused by the painting “Birch Grove”. Her success significantly exceeded the public outcry from showing all previous work Kuindzhi. This landscape occupies an important place in the work of the artist. It is not by chance that the plot of Arkhip Ivanovich repeatedly varied in the future. For the first time in the landscape painting of the second half of the XIX century, the impression of joy and optimism from the sunlit corner of nature received an almost symbolic sound.
In the late 1880s, Kuindzhi increasingly visited the Academy of Arts. Together with I.Shishkin, they had a long conversation with young students of the landscape class. As artists of the Peredvizhnichesky sense, they felt the need and the possibility of transformation in the Academy. In 1890, Kuinji entered the commission for the preparation of a new academic statute. Two years later he was approved as a professor. Then he, along with Repin, Polenov, Vasnetsov and Shishkin, became a freelance member of the Council of the Academy. Thus, a new pedagogical stage began in the master’s creative biography.