– JAHRGÄNGE 2014 –

Fiodor Réchetnikov
Low Marks Again (1948-1949)

No citizen of the Soviet Union was unfamiliar with this painting by Fyodor Reshetnikov. It is true that the subject is closely related to school life, and therefore one day all Soviet pupils had to write a composition on the painting in their Russian language class. The painting even inspired a cartoon: Murzilka, an imaginary character, learns that the unhappy protagonist has received a bad grade for geography; they travel together on a journey to the North Pole, helped by a magical globe.

At first the artist wished to paint a good pupil. He went to a Moscow school in search of a model. As he attended a course, he sketched a demoralized boy, incapable of finding the solution to an uncomplicated problem. Thus emerged the idea of ​​the painting. The scene was to take place at the school, with the boy and his teacher in the foreground. But the initial sketches seemed rather boring and Reshetnikov moved the scene into the typical atmosphere of a Soviet house. Thus was born this story of a bad pupil, ice skates in his satchel, his disappointed mother, his strict sister and the faithful dog who does not understand his master’s sadness. Reshetnikov had created an incredible number of sketches and studies. He was very attentive to detail, worked carefully on the characters’ expressions and structured the composition so as to render the scene sincere, lively and emotional.

Fyodor Reshetnikov (1906-1988), named the People’s Artist of the USSR, two-time winner of the Stalin Prize, knight of several decorations, was known for his academic works and portraits of his contemporaries. From a family of icon painter, an early orphan, he completed a school for young workers in the late 1920s (such schools were created at the dawn of the Soviet era to offer young workers access to schooling) and then graduated from the Higher Institute of Technical and Artistic Studies in Moscow. Known especially for his easel paintings, he also created excellent drawings and caricatures.

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Vintage 2014