Artist Konstantin Andreevich Somov
Konstantin Somov is one of the representatives of Russian symbolism. The composition of the artist’s style was largely influenced by his training in the Paris Studio Colorassi (1897-1899), it was then that he mastered the lessons of modernity and French Rococo. The scenes of his paintings resemble the gallant balls and masquerades that were characteristic of the past XVIII century. Modernity in his works is mystically connected with the previous era, the genre scenes of his paintings are reminiscences of the past century, his characters vaguely resemble the puppets of Watteau, Boucher and Fragonard, but unlike his predecessors, the artist gives the images a mystical ghostliness rather than elegant refinement. V. A. Lenyashin rightly noted that the origins of Somov “beyond the past days”, much deeper, more hidden: Botticelli, Watteau, Hoffman[.
Ghostly-transparent eroticism, without which Somov could not think of art, then permeates the irreparably spicy pages of the “Book of the Marquise”, and appears (like a Casanova doll) in the naively defiant and mechanically Frank appearance of Columbine. Behind the masks, grimaces, forced carnival performance, “dying every minute”, the artist’s soul is hidden, trembling from the touch of life more than from the creeping death: “and again dreams, visions, mirages, the same Scenery, the same extravaganza”.
An important place in Somov’s work is occupied by portraits that differed from other paintings in realism. When creating portraits, the artist uses pencil, watercolor, gouache and white paint.
Konstantin Somov became famous throughout Europe during his lifetime, and his works were exhibited at many foreign exhibitions. Nevertheless, the tragedy in his biography was undoubtedly present. After the revolution in Russia, there was a time of General devastation, and in these difficult days at Home there could be no interest in the numerous gallant scenes. Somov’s exquisite work becomes irrelevant in such an environment, and therefore misunderstood and unclaimed.
In 1923, Somov, as part of a group of artists, went to the United States to accompany an exhibition of Russian art. In the organization of this exhibition and the design of the catalog, Somov took an active part along with I. E. Grabar. Grabar, like Somov, thought that he was “too in love with the past” and “should treat everything modern with disdain and condescension”, “reluctantly talking about modern beauty”.
In 1924, the artist moved from the United States to France, settled in Normandy (Granvilliers), and in 1928 acquired an apartment in Paris on the Boulevard Exelmans. He still spends the summer months in Normandy. Personal exhibition at the Forester’s shop in Paris. Participates in the exhibition of Russian art in Brussels. 1930-personal exhibition at the kN gallery. Golitsyn in London. Participates in exhibitions of Russian art in Belgrade and Berlin. 1932-participates in the exhibition of Russian art in Paris.
A number of later works are acquired by a friend of the artist M. V. Braykevich (in 1949 they were received in his will at the Eshmolian Museum in Oxford). In recent years, the artist continued to write “gallant” stories, illustrate books and work on portraits. In 1950, his memorial exhibition was held in Oxford.
The artist lived in Paris until his death and never came to Russia again. He died in distant France, unnecessary and forgotten in Soviet Russia, and only after his death at Home, he was appreciated thanks to the immortal paintings (in 1969, exhibitions are held for the 100th anniversary of his birth in Leningrad)