Mikhail Yurevich Kugach

Mikhail Yurevich Kugach

  • Diploma of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR (1965)
  • Corresponding Member of the Academy of Arts (1995)
  • Honoured artist of Russia (2000)
  • Full member of the Russian Academy of Arts (2007)

Mikhail Kugach is a Soviet and Russian artist of the traditional artistic Russian school; an ardent supporter of Realism, or as Kugach himself has declared his direction in art, 'good old Orthodox Realism'; an honoured artist of Russia and a member of the Russian Academy of Arts. Mikhail Yurevich was born on January 2, 1939, in Moscow in the family of renowned artists O. G. Svetlichnaya and Y. P. Kugach. Thus, the choice of profession was not surprising, given the atmosphere that has surrounded Kugach since his childhood. At the age of ten, the boy went to study at the Moscow secondary art school affiliated with The Surikov Art Insitute. Around the same time, Mikhail Yurievich's parents bought a house in the village, in the area of Vyshny Volochok, and the trips from the city to the countryside have turned out to expose a profound impact on the artist's work in the future. The artist has said: 'Since then, I gradually began to understand that this is my Homeland. During winter times I missed the village. When summer came, I always went there. Finally, I had settled there forever when I graduated'.

After graduating from school in 1956, Kugach entered the Surikov Art Institute at the faculty of easel painting in the studio of Professor P. D. Pokarzhevsky. The artist graduated from the Institute in 1965 with his final work '1924. Beeps', and has begun to actively develop his professional skills and take part in various exhibitions. In 1965, Kugach joined the Union of artists of the USSR. After some time, in 1967, he worked in the studio of B. V. Ioganson at the Academy of Arts. Also, he was teaching for some time. In 1987, Kugach was appointed as the artistic director of the Moscow art school 'In memory of 1905'. The artist has talked about his father, Yuri Petrovich Kugach, as his most influential, powerful teacher. Mikhail perceives his pedagogical potential as a transfer of the experience, which has been systematised by his father's great teacher, painter Nikolai Petrovich Krymov. The main themes of Kugach's work are views of his beloved nature, portraits of peasants and soldiers who returned from the war, scenes from the life of the Russian village filled with special poetry, depth of thought, warmth and attention to the people. These motives of going back to the origins, to the ancient foundations of peasant life particularly vividly appear in the period of the 1980s. The artist has stated: 'It was an extraordinary world, a special kind of people, firmly connected with their land. And I am happy that as a child I came into contact with this truly peasant, and fundamentally, Christian world.

In 1988, Kugach headed the creative association of artists called 'Moskvorechye', where he showed himself as an experienced authority among young painters such as Nikita Fedosov, Igor Shilkin, Valery Kryukov, Alexander Saplin, Herman Neznaikin. 'Moskvorechye' was organising art exhibitions abroad: in Spain, Germany, Slovakia, Austria, Finland, South Korea and England. It was a successful enterprise that has brought fame and honour to the artists. However, the main goal for Kugach was not to succeed for himself and his fellow artists, but to preserve the best time-tested traditions of the Moscow School of Painting. This mission has been at the head of all the motifs of Mikhail Yuryevich. Even as a fully-formed artist with a high level of technical skill, Kugach never ceases to learn from nature. As Mikhail believes: 'the constant pursuit of perfection is the only guarantee of development in time'. In 1995, Kugach was elected a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Arts. Despite the fact that the artist often visits Moscow for business, he remains the man of the village not only regarding his physical residence but his spirit and soul. The artist has admitted: ' the Tver province inspires all my paintings'. Kugach's works are kept in museums and private collections in Russia and abroad.


Anisov, L. (June 2016). "Михаил Юрьевич Кугач" [online] Moskva. Available at: