17 Mar, 2021

Mikhail Vrubel – painter

Mikhail Alexandrovich Vrubel was born (5) on March 17, 1856 in Omsk. Studied at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (1880-1884). He has been to Italy and France several times, visited Germany, Greece, Switzerland.

Following the tradition of A.A. Ivanova and N.N. Ge, Vrubel, in his work, turned to the problems of human existence, to moral and philosophical questions about good and evil, about the place of man in the world. But in the conditions of the complex and contradictory development of Russian artistic culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the desire to resolve these issues led Vrubel, who stood aloof from the social struggle of his era and did not see real ways to overcome the acute contradictions of bourgeois reality, to painful searches for a way out only in the internal, spiritual life of a person.

Vrubel turned to the romanticism of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to ancient mythology and the Russian fairy tale; in his works, there are often elements of enigma, mystery, characteristic of the poetry of early Russian symbolism.

The versatility of artistic creativity as an expression of the dream to combine art with life, the search for a high monumental style and national form in art, adherence to ornamental rhythmically complicated solutions give Vrubel’s works the characteristic features of the Art Nouveau style.

However, Vrubel’s work is much broader than both symbolism and the Art Nouveau style.

The desire to create a complex picture of the world in which everything is interconnected and animated, and behind the familiar appearance of objects hides its own special and intense life, leads to an organic fusion in the works of Vrubel of the world of human feelings and the world of nature (Pan, 1899, By the Night, 1900, “Lilac”, 1900 – all in the Tretyakov Gallery).

In 1884-1889 Vrubel lived in Kiev, where he created icons and a number of wall paintings. In search of greater spirituality, monumentality and plastic expressiveness of his works, Vrubel turns to the experience of classical art. However, it is far from stylization or imitation.

Decorative searches are associated with Vrubel’s craving for monumental art, which determined his work in the 1890s, when Vrubel, having moved to Moscow, entered the Abramtsevo art circle of the patron S.I. Mamontov.

In the same years, Vrubel worked on illustrations for the works of M.Yu. Lermontov.

The main theme of Vrubel’s work in the Moscow period was the theme of the Demon. In The Demon (1890, Tretyakov Gallery) and illustrations for the poem of the same name by M. Yu. Lermontov (watercolor, whitewash, 1890-1891, Tretyakov Gal., Russian Museum and other collections) Vrubel in a symbolic form poses “eternal” questions of good and evil, puts forward his ideal of a peculiarly understood heroic personality, a rebel, who does not accept the ordinariness and injustice of reality, tragically feeling his loneliness.

The era of severe social contradictions and social discord, the rebellious moods of the pre-revolutionary period – all this influenced Vrubel’s work on the theme of the Demon, which ended with Demon Defeated (1902, Tretyakov Gallery).

In the 1900s, Vrubel’s work acquired the character of a tragic confession, the drama of the world perception and expression of forms, and sometimes the features of a painful breakdown (from 1902 Vrubel suffered from a severe mental illness and in 1906 became blind).

Died outstanding artist Mikhail Aleksandrovich Vrubel (1) April 14, 1910 in St. Petersburg.