Vasily Sitnikov

Born: 1915, Novo-Rakitino (Tambov Province)
Died: 1987, New York

Painter, graphic artist, sculptor, teacher. Born in the village of Novo-Rakitino in Tambov Province (now Lipetsk Region) in the family of a peasant called Yakov Sitnikov (1915). Moved with his family to Moscow (1921), where he took up oil painting (1925). Travelled to Leningrad to enrol at the Academy of Arts, but did not take the entrance exams (1932). Studied at Moscow College of Naval Construction (1933), where he made models of ships. Joined the workers’ faculty of the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies after failing the entrance examinations at the VKhUTEMAS (1935). Worked as a lantern-slide operator at the Vasily Surikov Institute of Art (1935) and a trolley puller on the Moscow Underground construction site, where he sculpted statuettes from blue Jurassic clay (1935). Took part in crowd scenes and worked as an animation artist under Alexander Ptushko at Mosfilm Studios (1937). Sent to dig trenches near Vyazma in Smolensk Region, where he found German propaganda leaflets (1941). Arrested and held at Taganka Prison in Moscow (1941). Sectioned and sent to Kazan Mental Asylum for compulsory psychological treatment (1941–44). Returned to Moscow (1944), where he lived on casual earnings. Taught at the domestic academy in his apartment and his studio at 10 Malaya Lubyanka Street (from 1951). Drew a series of nudes and landscapes with monastic motifs (1960s–70s). Husband of Ira Ivleva and lover of Alyona Kirtsova (1973–75). Arrested and held for two months at Matrosskaya Tishina Prison (1974). Emigrated to Kitzbühel in Austria (1975), where he painted Memory of Moscow (1975–77). Moved to New York (1980). Died in New York and buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery in Moscow (1987). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1966). Contributed to exhibitions at the Scientific Research Institute of the Hygiene of Labour (Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR) in Moscow (1966), Nuove correnti a Mosca at the Museo Civico di Belle Arti in Lugano (1970), Centro di Iniziativa di Culturali in Avezzano (1971–72), Exhibition of Works of Moscow Artists at the House of Culture (Exhibition of Economic Achievements) in Moscow (1975), Nonkonformistische Maler at the Graphotek im Kunstamt Charlottenburg in West Berlin (1975), Exposition au Musée Russe en Exil in Montgeron (1976), Russischer Februar 76 in Wien at the Künstlerhaus in Vienna (1976), Alternativen nonkonformistische Malerei in Russland at the Kunstverein in Esslingen (1976), La peinture russe contemporaine at the Palais des Congrès in Paris (1976), New Art from the Soviet Union at the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies in St Louis (1976), Venice Biennale (1977), group exhibitions in London (1977), Turin (1978), Tokyo (1978), Chartres (1978), Bochum (1979), Washington DC (1983), Düsseldorf (1984), Cologne (1988) and Brussels (1988), retrospective at the Hermitage Society in Moscow (1987) and posthumous one-man shows at the Romanov Gallery in Moscow (2007) and Natalia Kournikova Gallery in Moscow (2009).

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