Paintings by Geli Korzhev: Soviet Idealist+Iconoclast

February 27 – June 13, 2021

Mezzanine Gallery

Geli Korzhev
Before a Long Journey, 1970–76
Oil on canvas, 35″ x 47″
The Raymond and Susan Johnson Collection

This exhibition presents numerous oil paintings by the prominent Soviet and post-Soviet era artist, drawn from private American collections.  Geli Korzhev (1925-2012) was one of the leading masters of post-WWII Soviet art. He received his art training at  Moscow’s prestigious Surikov Art Institute, graduating from the studio of Sergei Gerasimov in 1950. Korzhev entered the Soviet art scene at a time when the nation was recovering from the devastating war, and, at the same time, bidding farewell to Stalin’s grim legacy (after 1953). A son of his era, Korzhev developed his own style, defined by him as  “social realism,” that sought to eliminate the propagandistic posture, artificiality, and reality-bending politics of Stalinist-era art.  His striking canvases focus on the common people, in an attempt to cleanse the varnish of propaganda from the visualizations of reality and remind the viewer of the ‘true’’ socialism, as he envisioned it. 

Korzhev did not welcome the end of the Soviet Union. His Mutants series, painted in the early 1990s, is both nostalgic for the Soviet ideal and prophetic in its vision of a society in the hands of the corrupt and very powerful few. Several works of the series are included in the exhibition.

These rare paintings are on loan from the Raymond and Susan Johnson Collection, as well as other private collections of Russian art. The Museum greatly appreciates the unique vision and shrewd collecting judgment of all those contributing to our exhibitions. We also express our gratitude to Moores Insurance Management for their support.