Artist and Book: Book Exhibition Dedicated to the 130th Birth Anniversary of Vladimir Favorsky (1886-1964)

March 10 – March 15, 2016
The Library of the Russian Academy of Arts
21 Prechistenka street, Moscow

Vladimir Favorsky (1886-1964) is a phenomenon in the 20th century culture. Easel and book graphics, sculpture, monumental and easel painting, stage design – these are the spheres of fine arts to which he announced himself most of all. However, he chose graphics as “the fine arts more accessible to people, than painting as a mass art”. The dominating material in the master’s creative work was engraving. The multi-sided artist, art historian, teacher - Favorsky most vividly revealed himself as a book illustrator.

The exhibition at the Russian Academy of Arts is a rare opportunity to see Favorsky’s prints as book covers and book illustrations in the atmosphere of a library. Of big interest is the edition of the “Hamlet” translated by Boris Pasternak and illustrated by Vladimir Favorsky just before the beginning of WW2. Boris Pasternak translated “Hamlet” at the request of Vsevolod Meyerhold -  in the early 1939 the great theater Director was still hoping to be able to stage the tragedy. In the days when Favorsky was working at the “Hamlet”, Meyerhold had already been shot.

The fate did not spare Favorsky. Not only the death of his both sons fell to his share. There was no such humiliation which this remarkable man did not have to experience in Stalin’s years. Will today’s generation understand why since the middle of the 1930-s  this man so far away from politics was for the party leaders the most dangerous man? They were afraid of his talent, his faith, wisdom, true love for Russia. In 1948-1953 Favorsky as an “ideologist of formalism” was forbidden to teach and deprived of minimum salary. But in that time – almost the most difficult for Russian culture – he continued to work, made brilliant illustrations to “Robert Burns”, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets” in the translation of Samuel Marshak; painted portraits in pencil. Only after Stalin’s death they officially returned to Favorsky the honor and respect which all decent and honest people of art felt for him. Young artists of the 1960-s saw in him an art leader, spiritual basis, followed him and were proud classifying themselves as  “Favorsky’s school”.

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