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LENINGRAD PAINTING SCHOOL

The history of the Leningrad school of painting covers the period from the early 1930s to the early 1990s. Having emerged in an atmosphere of intense struggle over the development of art and art education in the USSR, it became the missing link, thanks to which in the 20th century the traditions of national art school and realistic painting were preserved and developed.
Having made a significant contribution to the Soviet visual arts, to the formation of the aesthetic views and spiritual world of modern generations, the Leningrad school left the stage at the turn of 80-90, fulfilling its historical and artistic mission and giving way to the era of transition.
Its main external attributes are preserved. The Academy of Arts, once again changing its name, continues to prepare painters, graphic artists, architects, sculptors, restorers. The Leningrad Branch of the Union of Artists of the RSFSR, after the division of property, became an independent Petersburg Union of Artists, retaining the historic building of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts on Bolshaya Morskaya Street. However, the change in the social system, generations of artists, and artistic priorities themselves left no doubt that the era of the Leningrad school remained in the past, becoming the subject of close study and sometimes heated debate.
Whether its best traditions will be preserved and continued in the new conditions, what will be the relations between society, the state and art – the current generations of artists should give answers to these questions.
The art of the first post-revolutionary years reflected the boiling of political life against the background of deep economic disruption. The collapse of production and transport, the fall of trade, the violation of monetary circulation caused by the events of 1917 and the subsequent Civil War and foreign intervention led to the collapse of the single all-Russian market and naturalization of the economy, to isolationism, the lumpenization of society of consciousness.
A significant part of the population of industrial and cultural centers, including specialists and skilled workers, left without means of subsistence and fleeing from hunger, fled to the provinces or emigrated. At the same time, the masses of poorly educated people joined the active political and cultural life. The element of anarchy, which threatened to overwhelm the country, raised to the surface in a huge number of all kinds of amateurs, experimenters and outspoken adventurers. The huge country, stretching from the Carpathians to the Pacific, has been economically and culturally discarded for decades.
The Soviet government was rapidly losing its social support. There was a real threat to the revolution. It was necessary to introduce in 1921 a new economic policy that allowed private entrepreneurship, revived trade, small and medium production, restored monetary circulation and prepared the transition to large-scale economic and cultural reforms, which at the end of the 20s was a very mixed picture that reflected achievements, costs and delusions of the post-revolutionary decade.
The emergence of the Leningrad school of painting falls at the beginning of the 1930s not by accident. First of all, it was Leningrad, where outstanding artistic forces were concentrated, remained the center of attraction for creatively gifted young people, who were striving here from all over the immense country.
Secondly, by this time in the USSR the basic, fundamental methods of managing the economy and political system of a socialist society were worked out, as well as organizational forms took shape that ensured the implementation of state plans for economic and cultural construction, in which Leningrad played a key role. In general, they existed unchanged until the early 1990s, adapting to new challenges and changing external conditions and ensuring socio-political stability. Their destruction in the early 1990s caused the destruction of the system of financing and contractual relations in the field of visual arts. The subsequent transition to a market model of the economy led to the disintegration and division of property of the Union of Artists.
Finally, the formation of the Leningrad school was prepared by processes that took place in the post-revolutionary period both within the artistic community and in the relationship between artists, creative organizations and the state. If you take a closer look, it turns out that the prerequisites of many decisions of the early 1930s matured and consisted of the experience of the pre-revolutionary Academy, of repeated attempts to reform it, of approaching the requirements of the new time.The Leningrad school in the narrow, literal sense is usually understood as the Leningrad Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture named after I. Repin (LIJSA) from 1932 until the early 1990s, its traditions, teachers, pupils and their artistic heritage.
In a broader sense, the notion of “Leningrad school”, in addition to I. Repin’s LIHS, includes a group of higher and secondary educational institutions closely related to the institute, as well as the Leningrad Union of Artists since its inception in 1932 and until the beginning of 90 s.
And yet, figuratively speaking, the Leningrad school is, as history has shown, primarily a unique human alloy derived from the richest breed, with a minimum amount of extraneous “impurities” carefully collected throughout the country, in the Russian province, the outback, missed through the most advanced in the world “concentrating mill” and cast in the furnace of the era.
Representatives of the Leningrad school of painting can be attributed to about 1,200 artists, of whom about 400 names in different years and in different genres defined its “face”. Her pupils in the years 1930-50 were E. P. Antipova, T. K. Afonina, E. V. Baikova, N. N. Baskakov, P. P. Belousov, D. V. Belyaev, O. B. Bogaevskaya, I.M. Varichev, A.I. Vasilyev, I.P. Veselkin, R.I. Vovkushevsky, N.N. Galakhov, V.V. Golubev, E.K. Gorokhova, G.P. Egoshin, A. G. Eremin, V.F. Zagonek, M.A. Zubreeva, M.A. Kaneev, E.V. Kozlov, M.K. Kopyttseva, B.V. Korneyev, A.P. Korovyakov, E.M. Kostenko, Ya. I. Krestovsky, B. M. Lavrenko, A. I. Laktionov, O. L. Lomakin, D. I. Maevsky, E. E. Moiseenko, A. A. Mylnikov, M. D. Natarevich, S. G. Nevelshtein, A. A. Nenartovich, Yu. M. Neprintsev, D. G. Obozne co., V. I. Ovchinnikov, L. N. Orekhov, V. M. Oreshnikov, S. I. Osipov, V. M. Petrov-Maslakov, Yu. S. Podlysky, N. M. Pozdneev, A. T. Pushnin, V.I. Reykhet, L.A. Ronchevskaya, S.A. Rotnitsky, L.A. Rusov, G.A. Savinov, A.M. Semenov, A.N. Semenov, V.A. Serov, E. P. Skuin, A. I. Sokolov, V. V. Sokolov, E. I. Tabakova, V. K. Teterin, N. E. Timkov, V. F. Tokarev, M. P. Trufanov, Yu. N. Tulin, V. I. Tyulenev, B. S. Ugarov, L. A. Fokin, P. T. Fomin, B. D. Kharchenko, Yu. D. Khukhrov, V. F. Chekalov, B. I. Shamanov, A. V. Schmidt, N. P. Steinmiller, L. S. Yazgur and many other famous or, on the contrary, half-forgotten artists.
From the very first steps, the Leningrad school was distinguished by the spirit of democracy in the true sense of the word. Among her priorities there was no service at the top of the capital society, she did not select candidates by place of birth or belonging to the affluent strata. On the contrary, she attracted and encouraged to master the art of painting gifted people from all walks of life, especially from the Russian provinces, from working, peasant families, from the former “social lower classes” of society, for whom the road to such an education was often closed before the revolution.
Her students brought to art a sense of authenticity, moral purity, faith in man and a passionate desire to change the world for the better. The life of the Volga, the Don, the White Sea, their life, stirred up by the civil war, the romance of the first years of the revolution and the enthusiasm of the first five-year plans, the roads of war and the soldiers’ brotherhood remained for many of them the most expensive and important impressions. Having traveled with the country to overcome the challenges of their trials, they embodied in their works the experience of the people with their troubles, pain, selfless struggle and joy of common victories, with their faith in the triumph of goodness and justice.

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