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ArtistsMikhail Sokolov

Sokolov, Mikhail Ksenofontovich

(b. 1885 Yaroslavl — d. 1947 Moscow) Painter and graphic artist

1900—1904: Studied at the Yaroslavl municipal drawing classes under P. Romanovsky.

1904—1907: Studied at Moscow’s Stroganov College of Art and Industry under S. Noakovsky and S. Yaguzhinsky.

Took part in exhibitions beginning in 1912, including those of the World of Art group.

1918: Taught in the town of Sergach.

1919—1922: Taught at the State Free Art Studios in Tver, Yaroslavl and Yakhroma.

1922—1925: Taught at the Proletkult art workshops in Moscow.

1925—1928: Taught at Yaroslavl Artistic and Pedagogical College and IPKH [The Institute of Advanced Training of Painters and Designers] in Moscow.

1936—1938: Taught at IPKH in Moscow.

1943—1947: Supervised an art studio at the Rybinsk House of Pioneers.

“Sokolov had a habit of working in cycles. One of the largest and longest was the cycle of women’s portraits. Actually, it was the same woman that captured his romantic imagination. This was his Stranger.

She resembled [Alexander] Blok’s character. She wore an old-fashioned silk dress that accentuated her waist. She wore a “hat with mournful feathers.” Her hand was narrow and had long thin fingers with rings. Sokolov loved Alexander Blok’s poetry. <…>

Hundreds of variations of this image are iridescent with soft mother-of-pearl colors. Often it was pastel, sometimes — watercolors. There was a great many of monochrome drawings in coal, ink and pencil.

The image had nothing to do with modern life. It seemed to have passed on to Sokolov from the paintings of the l8 century but interpreted in the decadent way. All of Sokolov’s aesthetism was expressed in these imaginary portraits. <…> It was his aesthetism that often determined his artistic preferences. That is why he put Rubens’ Portrait of Lady-in-waiting of the Infanta Isabella above all, cherished lords’ portraits by Van Dyck, worshipped Fetes galantes by Watteau, of all Picasso’s work he valued only The Spanish Woman, and for a while the theme of “Pierrot” was central to his art. His favorite book on art was Imaginary Portraits by Pater, the most sophisticated aesthete in the history in art. <…>

He was absolutely self-confident. He attended all exhibitions with one purpose only — to come to the conclusion that no one compared to him. He spoke his mind about other artists and didn’t hold back. Moscow breathes gossip and naturally, Sokolov’s comments reached the painters. It made him a lot of enemies.”

Nicolay Tarabukin, “Materials for the biography of the artist Mikhail Sokolov” Mikhail Sokolov in correspondence and memoirs of contemporaries. M.: Molodaya Gvardiya, 2003. Pp. 47—48.

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