Dmitri Krasnopevtsev

8 June 1925, Moscow—28 February 1995, Moscow

Krasnopevtsev’s studies at a regional art school (1942-1946) were interrupted by army service in the Far East (1943-1946). In 1955, Krasnopevtsev got a degree from the Surikov Art Institute. Meeting George Costakis, who acquired many of his works for his collection, was an important event for Krasnopevtsev. He began taking part in exhibitions rather early, in 1956, and in shows abroad in 1967. After Life magazine published one of his still lifes, he was criticized in the Soviet press, charged with formalism, and expelled from the Union of Artists, which reduced the prospects of further exhibitions in the USSR. The pianist Svyatoslav Richter, a friend and collection of Krasnopevtsev’s work, organized personal apartment exhibitions at his home in 1962 and 1975. Then, in the Perestroika years, Krasnopevtsev became one of the first “rehabilitated” artists in the country, with an exhibition at the Central House of Artists in Moscow in 1992; he was also the first artist awarded the new “informal” Triumph Prize (1993).  After his exhibition at the Museum of Private Collections in Moscow (1992-1993), the museum turned those rooms into a permanent exhibit called “Studio of Dmitri Krasnopevtsev, “ where besides his paintings, there were some of the objects from his studio, which was in itself a unique installation of his collection of fossils, icons, dried plants—everything the artist used in his still lifes.

Dmitri Krasnopevtsev is a vivid representative of the metaphysical direction in art in the shestidesiatniki generation [literally, “people of the sixties,” referring to the generation that flourished in the arts during the Khrushchev Thaw—Translator]. In the early 1960s, his main theme was the still life with broken ceramic bowls, fossils, dried plants, and shells, a genre that combines the traditions of Symbolism and Surrealism. Krasnopevtsev is often compared with the Italian artist Giorgio Morandi, with whom he shares a certain type of world view common in the creative intelligentsia milieu inside totalitarian regimes: a state of disillusionment and enforced passive silence, retreating into oneself. This state in Krasnopevtsev is brought to the deepest dramatic form and at the same time to romantic nobility. His profoundly individual vision of the world and his moral and aesthetic preferences did not change throughout his life, and a great part of it passed in complete seclusion. “Whatever may happen in your life, do not grieve and do not rejoice without measure. It was all predestined and your ‘free will’ consists of being able to understand, accept, and execute as best you can what has been assigned to you. Therefore it is unworthy and foolish to beg God, no matter what,” wrote Krasnopevtsev in his diary.