Yuri Petrovich Kugach
- 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.