Boris Sergeevich Ugarov

Boris Sergeevich Ugarov

1922 —1991
  • State prize of the RSFSR named after I. E. Repin (1976)
  • State prize of the USSR (1985)
  • Academician of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1978)
  • People's Artist of the USSR (1982)
Boris Ugarov was a prominent Soviet Russian painter, Professor, rector and President of the Academy of Arts, holder of the title of People's Artist of the USSR and the author of many landscapes, portraits and genre paintings executed in realistic style. The artist zealously adhered to traditional views in painting avoiding avant-garde trends and Western influences. Ugarov was born on February 6, 1922, in Petrograd in the family of a mechanical engineer who worked in a factory. His childhood was similar to one of many other children from proletariat families. Like everyone else, he attended high school, and around the age of ten began to draw. When the young Boris Ugarov went to an amateur drawing studio at the House of Scientists, as the artist himself later recalled, he was lucky to get a good teacher and painter Arkady Alexandrovich Rylov. Also, the boy visited a private art studio of A. Eberling. A dream of applying to the Institute right after school and starting a career as an artist was not destined to come true, as the war broke out and Ugarov volunteered for the front. The young man was enlisted in the October division, the 265th Independent machinegun-artillery battalion. Thus, instead of becoming an artist, Boris Ugarov became the gunner of an anti-tank gun. Ugarov took part in the battles on the Leningrad and Volkhov fronts, in Karelia and the Far East. Undoubtedly, the years of war have left the imprint on Ugarov's personality and his art. Subsequently, on his desk, he has always kept a white sheet of paper with words written in red ink on it: "Life is so short, you need to have time to do everything...". Most of the artist's work is related to the themes of the Second World war, patriotism, the siege of Leningrad, and the hard-working days of the Soviet people in general. He always tried to convey the mood of time through his artistic vision. Being a native citizen of Leningrad, Ugarov has often expressed love for his city through art.

The art of Valentin Serov became a guiding star for Boris Sergeyevich during the war. Wherever the young man went, he always carried with him an extensive monograph of Grabar about Serov, a hefty book that he has gone through countless times, finding inspiration and gaining strength in rare moments of leisurely time. Ugarov was already firmly convinced of to what he would devote his life if he returned from the war. Later he declared: "All my life after the war is as a prize. I am living my second life. I have come out of the crucible of war, knowing the measure of the price of life". Ugarov's first painting, "Speeding up the Svir river by the artillery", was painted for the new army Museum of Glory and Victory in Lodeynoye Polye. The next canvas was also dedicated to the battle scene, "Artillery in the mountains", and it was created for the army exhibition in Moscow. Immediately after demobilisation, in 1945, Ugarov entered the Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. E. Repin, where his most important teachers were I. E. Grabar, V. M. Oreshnikov, A. A. Mylnikov. He was frantically looking for his own way in art, working with great tension, and entirely devoted himself to the comprehension of the secrets of the skill of famous artists. The diploma work of Boris Sergeyevich was a painting "Kolkhoz spring" (1954), in which the artist first turned to the theme of the people, to the image of the Motherland, which later became his key motive. Then, in 1951, he continued education in the graduate school of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, where Ugarov was under the guidance of A. M. Gerasimov. Since this period, Boris Ugarov has become a regular participant in group art exhibitions. The success of the artist was so great that after creating his final student work, "In the farm. 1929", together with the diploma of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, he was awarded a gold medal in 1954. Already in 1952, Boris Sergeyevich began to teach in the Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. E. Repin. In the same year, he joined the Leningrad Union of Soviet artists. In 1961, Ugarov finally completed his famous painting "Leningradka. In 1941", which had been festering for a long time and now took shape in the form of a solemn, but at the same time an ascetic, restrained and truthful song about the hard days of life during the war in Leningrad. The artist has said: "You should create a painting when you have a mature image in your soul. Only an internally suffered image will live on canvas".

The artist was highly engaged with the academic environment: he treated the education of new generations of painters with absolute seriousness and invested as much time and energy as he could into this for the most of his life. The artist has claimed: "Our young people are the future of art". In 1971, Boris Ugarov received the title of Professor of the Academy. In the period from 1977 to 1983, he served as the rector of the Institute. Also, Ugarov was the head of the easel painting studio since 1979 and the creative studio since 1987. Boris Sergeyevich was a socially active artist: he served as Chairman of the Board of the Leningrad Union of Artists from 1975 to 1979. From 1983 and until his death in 1991, Ugarov was President of the USSR Academy of Arts. During his time as President, he did a lot for the Academy and with his assistance many things have changed in a positive direction: departments of art history, art criticism and old Russian art were created, the connection between the Academy and the regions of Russia has begun to expand, the Academy has started to be freed from the official-reactionary image and anti-Western sentiments, etc. Personal exhibitions of the artist were organised in Leningrad in 1972 in the Museum of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, in 1982 in the State Russian Museum, in Moscow in 1982 in the hall of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, as well as in the cities of the Soviet Union in 1980-1981. Ugarov died on August 2, 1991, at the age of sixty-nine years in Leningrad and was buried on the Literary Bridges (Literatorskiye Mostki) of the Volkov cemetery. The artist's works are now in the collections of the State Tretyakov Gallery and the State Russian Museum, as well as in other major museums in Russia.


Борис Сергеевич Угаров. К 60-летию со дня рождения. Живопись. Графика. (1962) Ленинград: Государственный Русский музей.
Борис Угаров. Записки о художниках. Архив Наталии Павловны. (2015) Available at:
Долгополов, И. (1984) Борис Угаров в "Мастера и Шедевры". Персональный сайт Якова Ерманка. Available at:
Иванов, С. В. (2007) Неизвестный соцреализм. Ленинградская школа. Санкт-Петербург: НП-Принт.
Леняшин, В. (1984) Б. Угаров. Ленинград: Художник РСФСР.
Российская Академия Художеств. Угаров Борис Сергеевич. Available at: