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Vladimir Lebedev (Russian, 1891–1967)

About this artist

Source: Oxford University Press

Russian poster artist, painter and illustrator. He began to publish caricatures in journals even before he enrolled at the Academy of Arts (1910–14) and at the School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture (1912–16), St Petersburg, run by M. D. Bernshteyn (1875–1960) and Leonid Shervud. However, his most original period belongs to the 15 years after the October Revolution of 1917. Appointed professor at the Petrograd (St Petersburg) State Free Art Studios (Svomas; 1918–21) and assistant head of the poster department of the Russian Telegraphic Agency’s Northern Region office (the Petrograd ROSTA; 1920–22), he was at the forefront of the development of the ‘ROSTA Windows’: revolutionary posters that used the forms of lubok folk prints for propaganda effect (e.g. Uncle Prov, c. 1920; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.). In his posters made from coloured linocuts, such as Provisions Tax (1921; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.), he developed the earlier Neo-primitivism of Vladimir Tatlin and Kazimir Malevich into a distinctive laconic formal composition marked by decorative and rhythmical contrasts of simple blocks of colour, form and text. In his painting Lebedev experimented with the abstract forms created by faceted planes in Cubism and Futurism, as in Woman Ironing (1920) and Cubism (1922; both St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.). He favoured the subject of the female figure throughout his life, and he also conducted stylistic experiments on single themes, such as the woman ironing, as in Laundress (1920; St Petersburg, Rus. Mus.) where he effectively combined the tenets of signboard painting with those of Cubist collage. Lebedev was the art editor of Detgiz Publishing House in Leningrad (1924–33) and was responsible for establishing the innovative Leningrad school of illustrated children’s books, which was marked by the novel integration of stylized decorative elements and content, employing artists such as Nikolay Tyrsa and Vera Yermolayeva. Prime examples of his own illustrations are in Samuil Marshak’s books Morozhenoye (‘Ice-cream’; 1925) and Mister Tvister (‘Mr Twister’; 1933).

Jeremy Howard
From Grove Art Online

© 2009 Oxford University Press

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