Yuri Petrovich Kugach

Yuri Petrovich Kugach

1917 —2013
  • Winner of the Stalin prize of the second degree (1950)
  • Gold medal of the USSR Academy of Arts (1966)
  • State prize of the RSFSR named after I. E. Repin (1969)
  • Full member of the USSR Academy of Arts (1975)
  • People's artist of the USSR (1977)

Yuri Petrovich Kugach was a renowned Soviet artist and teacher who preferred traditional Russian School of painting and was an ardent supporter of Realism as well as a vivid representative of Socialist Realism. Kugach devoted his artistic career to landscapes of his native country, which are thoughtful and reflective of the artist's emotional state, still lifes, which are full of authenticity and truth, and to portraits with soul and heart. The artist's most beloved theme in his art is undoubtedly the village and its peasants. Through these paintings of the countryside, Yuri Petrovich subtly and accurately expressed the national way of life, Russian traditions and history, human character and showed beauty in the ordinary, mundane things. Militant and historical topics are also extensively present in Kugach's oeuvre but mostly during the early stage of his career.

The artist was born March 21, 1917, in the old city of Suzdal, in the Vladimir province. The family of Kugach was not the one of an artistic kind: the artist's mother came from a wealthy merchant family Seleznev, and his father graduated from the Polytechnic Institute. In 1920, when his mother died, he was transported to Petrograd, and later, in 1927, Kugach was moved to Moscow. Since he was seven years old, the boy has already shown great interest and talent for drawing, so it was not difficult for Yuri Petrovich to decide on his future profession. Young Kugach's drawings were somehow shown to the famous artist Kustodiev, and he was extremely impressed. In 1936, at the age of 19 years, Kugach graduated from the Moscow State Academic Art School named after 'in memory of 1905'. Yuri Petrovich has later recalled that he was very fortunate to get such wonderful teachers as the artist-realist K. F. Morozov and talented landscape painter N. P. Krymov. Then, in 1936, Kugach was admitted to the Moscow Art Institute named after V. I. Surikov in the workshop to S. V. Gerasimov. The artist began to participate in exhibitions starting from 1939. At the beginning of the Great Patriotic War, Yuri Petrovich was sent along with the other students for the construction of fortifications in the Smolensk region, and then was evacuated to Central Asia, Uzbekistan. The artist's diploma work 'The Execution of Partisans', which was presented in 1942 to the commission in Samarkand, was so impressive and professional that Yuri Petrovich was left at the Institute to continue his studies on a postgraduate level under the guidance of I. E. Grabar and N. K. Maximov. Kugach graduated from the Institute in 1945.

Kugach began teaching at the Institute named after Surikov in 1948. He was promoted to an associate professor in 1950. In the early 1950s, Yuri Petrovich, together with his wife, a talented artist, Olga Svetlichnaya, and their son, the future famous artist, Mikhail, moved to the village in the Tver region, near the Academicheskaya Dacha (House of Artists of Russia). This relocation has acquired vital importance in the work of Kugach: after the historical paintings, the artist turned his attention to the reality of the countryside, the life of the peasants and was affected to such an extent, that this topic has become the main trajectory in his artistic career. In 1954, together with other Moscow artists, Yuri Petrovich was continuously visiting the collective farms and mines of Smolensk. This trip served as an inspiration for the artist to work on the canvas "Collective carpenters" in 1957. The painting "Going to Housewarming", presented at the exhibition "Soviet Russia" in 1960, starts one of the most important series of works in the Kugach's career exploring the subject of collective farm life. Yuri Petrovich was so devoted to the village that he practically did not go beyond it and continued to paint his surroundings until his death. The artist died on April 23, 2013, at the age of 96 years, in the village of Malyy Gorodok of Vyshnevolotsk district of Tver region and was buried in The Serebryanicheskoe cemetery of the village of Sadovy. Kugach's works are exhibited in the Kiev Museum of Russian art, the State Tretyakov gallery, museums in Rostov, Kharkov, Lviv, Taganrog, Gorky, and in private collections in Russia and abroad.


Бычков Ю.А. (1983) Юрий Петрович Кугач. Ленинград: Художник РСФСР.
Воротынцева, К. (2017) "Портрет семьи художников" [online] Газета Культура. Available at:
Кучер, Е. (1991) "Кугач, Юрий Петрович". [online] Краткие биографии художников и скульпторов. Available at:
Мазуренко Н.Н. (1987) Юрий Петрович Кугач. Живопись. Каталог. Москва: Советский художник.