Geliy Korzhev

  • Born 1925 in Moscow, USSR
  • Died 2012 in Moscow, Russia
Geliy Korzhev was one of the leading proponents of the chiseled “severe” style of painting, which emerged during a period of Soviet ideological reorientation following the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953. Between 1939 and 1944 Korzhev studied at the Moscow State Art School, continuing his training at the Moskovskiy gosudarstvennyy (Suriko ) khudozhestvennyy institute (Moscow State (Surikov) Art Institute) until 1950. His first exhibitions took place in 1954 at the beginning of the so-called Khrushchev Thaw. Korzhev’s early work was dominated by history paintings, referencing both World War II and the 1917 Russian Revolution. Although never an official Communist party member, Korzhev served as chairman of the Union of Soviet Artists’ Moscow branch. He later distanced himself from political topics and entered into dialogue with art-historical themes. The “Mutants” series from the 1980s, which depicted grotesque scenes inhabited by men and monsters, combined references to Renaissance painting with elements of contemporary Western and Soviet culture. Following the death of his parents in 1986, Korzhev—himself an atheist—began work on a series of somber biblical scenes. Korzhev’s work received official state endorsement, and in 1972 he was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the Soviet Union.