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Efimov (Fridliand), Boris Efimovich

Ефимов (Фридлянд), Борис Ефимович

Born September 28, 1900, Kiev, Russian Empire; died October 1, 2008, Moscow, Russia

Boris Efimov (born Boris Efimovich Fridliand) revealed his creative industry at a young age, when in 1916, he produced a handmade school newspaper featuring his original drawings placed with the writings of his brother (and journalist to be) Mikhail Koltsov. Following a family move to Kharkov, Boris returned to Kiev in 1917 to study at the National Economic Institute and also to study under the law faculty at Kiev State University though he finished neither program. He published his first professional cartoons in the magazine Zritel' [Viewer] in 1918, a year before he was appointed secretary of the People's Commissariat of Military Affairs of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1920, he moved to Odessa to serve as head of the Department of Visual Agitation for UgROSTA (Southern Department of the Russian Telegraph Agency). Soon after, his cartoons appeared in such newspapers as BolshevikKommunar  [Commune Resident], and Visti [News]. Upon moving to Moscow in 1922, he began contributing to the newspapers Izvestiia [News], Pravda [Truth] and Trud [Labor], as well as the satirical magazines Chudak [Oddball] and Krokodil [Crocodile]. 

In 1939, his brother Mikhail, (a journalist with the Comintern during the Spanish Civil War) was arrested as part of the Great Purge and was executed the following year. After his brother's arrest, Boris was prohibited from publishing artistic work. He struggled to find employment until the Nazi invasion embroiled the Soviet Union into the Second World War. He was permitted to return to work as an illustrator for TASS, the Soviet Telegraph Agency, producing a short series of posters between 1941 and 1945. After the war, he traveled to Nuremberg, Germany and produced sketches, portraits and caricatures of persons accused of war crimes. In 1966, he became editor in chief of Agitplakat, serving until 1990. He was appointed chair of the Department of Caricature at the Russian Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg in 2002 and from 2007 to 2008, he served as chief artist at Izvestiia [News]. 

Efimov was considered a master of political satire and became well-decorated by the Soviet government. He was awarded the State Prize three times (1950, 1951, 1972) and named People's Artist of the USSR twice (1959, 1967), as well as a Hero of Socialist Labor (1990). He was elected to the USSR Academy of Arts (corresponding member 1954, full member 1975), and awarded the Order of Lenin (1980). He has exhibited in Moscow, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo, New York, Prague, Helsinki, Berlin, Sofia, and Stockholm along with a host of other cities, and his works are found in the State Tret'iakov Gallery in Moscow.

Sources & Citations

Zegers, P., et al. (2011). Windows on the war: Soviet TASS posters at home and abroad, 1941-1945. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago. (p.382)
Semenova, T. S. (1953). Boris Efimovich Efimov. Moscow: Sovetskii khudozhnik. (book on the life and career of Efimov) (bio, Efimov) (date of birth)
Baburina, N. I. (1988). The Soviet Political Poster, 1917-1980. New York: Penguin. (bio, artist)