Kravchenko, Aleksei Il’ich
Born November 2, 1889, Pokrovskaia, Samara Region, Imperial Russia; died May 31, 1940, Nikolina Gora, Moscow Region, USSR
Aleksei Il’ich Kravchenko was a Russian painter and a Soviet graphic artist. Born into a peasant family, Kravchenko began his studies in a theological school. However, in 1900 he moved to Moscow where he studied at a private commercial arts school. In 1904, Kravchenko enrolled in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture where he studied under the tutelage of the Imperial-era artists Abram Efimovich Arkhipov, Valentin Alexandrovich Serov, and Apollinarii Mikhailovich Vasnetsov. In 1905, the school was closed due to the uprising caused by revolution and so Kravchenko travelled to Germany to continue his education with Simon Hollósy, a Hungarian painter specializing in Naturalism and Realism.
In 1906 Kravchenko returned to the Moscow School where he finished his studies in 1910. In 1908 he received the prestigious Isaac Levitan Prize for his landscape “In the Ural Village”. Kravchenko traveled through Italy and Greece to study monumental painting and his landscapes from the trip received public recognition at the exhibitions of the Union of Russian Artists and at the 1911 Commonwealth of Moscow Artists. Several of Kravchenko's works were purchased for the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg and his paintings were acquired by the Rumiantsev Museum (St. Petersburg) and Tretiakov Gallery in Moscow. In 1912, the artist was elected a full member of the Moscow Association of Artists. In 1913, Kravchenko and the sculptor Vasili Vatagin were sent to India by the Imperial Academy of Arts. The voyage resulted in a series of works by both artists. Upon returning from India, Kravchenko visited Japan where he studied engraving, a technique that would later influence his designs and elevate him to a master of etching.
During the First World War, Kravchenko was assigned to the 1st Sanitary Detachment as a photojournalist and artist. His art work from the frontlines was published in newspapers and magazines around Imperial Russia. After the war, he lived in Satatov (with his wife and daughter) where he was put in charge of the Radishchev Art Museum. He also chaired its graphics department. During this stage of his life, Kravchenko delved into poster and monumental propaganda. He also designed logos and trademarks during the early Soviet-era. In 1921, the family returned to Moscow.
Selected venues where Kravchenko exhibited are: the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris (1925) where he won the Grand Prix award; a solo exhibit at the Paris gallery of Leon Pichon (1927); the VOKS (All-Union Society for Foreign Cultural Ties) exhibit in Moscow (1929), and that same year, the All-Union International Trade Advertising (Vneshtorg Reklama) sent Kravchenko to New York to organize a section of the "Exhibition of the Contemporary Art of Soviet Russia" sponsored by Amtorg (Amerikanskaia Torgovlia). Kravchenko’s painting “The Harvest” was featured on the first page of the exhibition catalog. In 1935, Aleksei Kravchenko was made a professor at the Moscow Institute of Fine Arts. He died at the RANIS (Workers of Science and Art) development near Zvenigorod.
Sources & Citations
Kruglov, V. et al. (2008). Neoklassitsizm v Rossii. Sankt-Peterburg: Palace edition. (p. 202, bio)
Anikst M., et al. (1987). Soviet commercial design of the twenties. New York: Abbeville Press. (pp. 76-77, trademark design of 1928 for Zemlia i Fabrika publishing, cited)
Grand Central Palace. (1929). Exhibition of Contemporary Art of Soviet Russia: Painting Graphic Sculpture. [Exhibition catalog]. New York, United States: Amtorg Trading Corporation. (Kravchenko’s “Harvest” in frontispiece of catalog, cited)
engels-city.ru. (РАНИС Работники науки и искусства)