[Kharkiv]: Ditvidav TsK LKSMU, 1939. 12 leaves of autolithographs in the folder. 31x41 cm. In original cloth portfolio with the photograph inset to front board.
Extremely rare. One of 1500 copies. No copies found in the Wordlcat.
A very important edition for capturing the peak moment of the cult of personality in the context of the propaganda aimed at children and young families, showing the idyllical image of Stalin, ‘the friend of all children’, in warm embraces with multi-ethnical children of USSR.
The collected portraits depict Stalin receiving honors and accolades from children who are by turns presenting him with flowers, receiving his autograph, discussing his work in a reading group. Each portrait was completed in Socialist realist style by artists associated with the Kharkov Art Institute - the full list include Gavril Pustovoit, O. Rubanov, S. Besedina, Daitsa Ji, A. Devnianin, M. Zhevago, V. Kasiian, V. Kriukov, V. Mironenko, V. Nevskii, E. Solov’ev, M. Khazanovskii.
The book is also important from the point of view of Ukrainian art, which arguably has suffered the most from the repressions of art intelligentsia in Stalin era, starting with the extermination of the art, the memory and the circle of students of Mikhail Boichuk to the repressions of the 1940s, after and during WWII.
Another notable image of Stalin cradling his young daughter, Svetlana Alilueva was done by Gavril Pustovoit (1900–1947), a Ukrainian graphic artist and illustrator. During WWII Pustovoit worked as a frontline artist. For his naturalistic and gruesome depictions of Stalingrad he was arrested in 1942, accused of “anti-Soviet activities” and sentenced to 10 years of hard labor, with his works, such as the one in this collection, subsequently suppressed.
Boris Kriukow (1895-1967), another contributor to this portfolio, a prominent illustrator of the 1920s and 1930s, has stayed in Kiev during German occupation, then moved to Lviv and even organized his art exhibitions during the German period of the city. From 1944 to 1948 he lived in Austria and painted under the pseudonym of Ivan Usatenko, taking part in art exhibitions in Salzburg, Innsbruck, etc. Later immigrated to Argentina where he became one of the most productive book illustrators of Ukrainian emigre community. Kriukow’s name became forbidden in USSR after the war and the books illustrated by him were banned and excluded from the public libraries.
Some of these portraits were printed from famous press photographs of the leader, most strikingly the image of Stalin receiving flowers from the Buriat girl Gelya [Engelsina] Markizova taken in 1936. The image went “viral” and served as a basis for artworks and sculptures of the leader with the little girl, until Gelya’s father, Ardan Markizov, a representative of People’s Commissar of Agriculture in the remote Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Republic in Siberia, was arrested in 1937. Accused of spying for Japan, he was executed in 1938. In an effort to erase Gelya’s name, all subsequent images of Gelya were re-attributed as images of Mamlakat Nakhangova, a famous Pioneer from Tajikistan who founded the Shock worker movement among Pioneer youth at the age of 11. Mamlakat’s photograph with the leader was also readily reproduced, and an autolithograph from the photographs is included here. This is likely the last publication in which both girls are represented with Stalin in their individual portraits and proper name attributions.
For all the above reasons, the portfolio could have been included in the lists of banned editions in Ukraine, which explains its rarity.