Nikolay Nikolaevich Baskakov
Nikolay Baskakov was born in a small village (now called Sovetsky) close to Astrakhan, in Southern Russia on 8 May 1918. He was raised in a large family of seven children, with a father who was a carpenter, and a mother, who was a housewife. After completing a certified industrial school, rather than following his father's steps and pursuing a career of a carpenter, Baskakov decided to study in the Astrakhan School of Art in 1934. The artist was lucky enough to become a pupil of a talented art teacher and a distinguished artist himself, Pavel Aleksandrovich Vlasov, who had amongst his other students a prominent Russian artist Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev.
Baskakov was a very successful student and graduated with distinction from the Astrakhan School of Art in 1939. Baskakov'v artistic abilities were fully appreciated by the Admissions Committee of the Ilya Repin Institute of Art, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad, and he was enrolled to the Department of Painting. However, the war broke out, and the artist was called up for service in the armed forces to the Far East. During the wartime in 1942, he was transferred to Khabarovsk and served at the Artistic Studio at the House of Red Army of the Far-Eastern front. Success came in 1943 when the artist participated in an exhibition for the first time: his painting which is called 'Khabarovsk, 1942' is shown in Moscow. In 1943, his painting 'Timurovci' was demonstrated during the exhibition in Novosibirsk. Also, Baskakov was actively participating in the production of motivational, calling for action, anti-fascist posters. He could return to the Ilya Repin Institute in Leningrad only in 1945, after being demobilised.
Baskakov graduated in 1951 and by that time he had already presented himself as a vivid member of the Leningrad School of Soviet Panting, vigorously exhibiting his work amongst the other successful and prominent artists of that time and was eventually granted membership of the Leningrad Union of Soviet Artists. Lenin and his depiction in the art was a particularly exciting topic for Baskakov. He often was returning to this subject matter across the years trying to avoid being pretentious and pompous, expressing the character without putting the figure of Lenin on a pedestal, which was usually the case with earlier works dedicated to Lenin. Baskakov was trying to engage with the subject on a deeper level representing a more portrait-like aspect of psychological intimacy. In his work, the artist was craving for a societal value of his art as well as showing a great deal of inherent drama of his subject matters. The artist's work shows something almost epic and at the same time reveals the intricacy of individual, subjective emotions showing considerable attention to the ephemeral details of the mundane bustle. These tendencies are particularly evident in Baskakov's works of the late 1960s and 1970s.
Baskakov's oeuvre is quite extensive and includes military and historical subject-matters, genre, portraits, landscapes, and etudes. A great deal of his work can be attributed to the social realism movement. However, an eagerness towards the new themes, genres and styles and a desire to test his limits are visible in his paintings. Baskakov notably manifested his approach and his joyous perception of the world in his works of the 1980s. Perhaps, this was influenced by the fact, that the artist was an avid traveller continually expanding his horizons. He was travelling a lot across his homeland as well as visiting India, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, France, the German Democratic Republic, Italy.
An exhibition in Paris in 1989 contributed significantly to Baskakov's reputation worldwide. Consequently, a lot of his paintings were purchased by private collectors and numerous museums across the world. Baskakov died at the age of seventy-six on October 14, 1993, in Saint Petersburg.
Ivanov, S. (2007). Unknown socialist realism. St. Petersburg: NP Print.
Kirillov, V. and Baskakov, N. (1991). Nikolai Nikolaevich Baskakov. St. Peterburg: "Khudozhnik RSFSR.."