Viktor Popkov is a leading protagonist of the “severe” or “austere” style of Soviet art—a paradigm shift from romanticism to social realism manifested in the years immediately following Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953. In 1948 Popkov was accepted to study draftsmanship at the Moskovskiy pedagogicheskiy institut iskusstv (Moscow Pedagogical Institute of Art), where he trained in both fine arts and applied arts until 1952. He continued his studies until 1958 at the capital’s Surikov Insitute under the tutelage of Evgeny Kibrik (1906–1978). In the 1950s Popkov began to conduct field work at construction sites across the Soviet Union, including the hydroelectric power station at Bratsk. The Bratsk power station became the subject of Popkov’s iconic painting from 1960. In the mid 1960s Popkov distanced himself from industrial scenes and began to explore the grief-stricken facets of human psychology brought about by the “Great Patriotic War” (the term used by Russians to refer to World War II). In 1967 the artist won a Diploma of Honor at the Paris Biennale. In 1975 he was posthumously awarded the State Prize of the USSR, one year after being tragically shot dead during a misunderstanding with a cash-in-transit guard in Moscow.