The death of the commissar


Artist – Petrov -Vodkin

“The Death of the Commissioner” is a work written by Petrov-Vodkin in 1928 by order of the Revolutionary Military Council for the exhibition “10 years of the Red Army”. The picture occupies a central place in the Soviet period of Petrov-Vodkin’s work. This, one of the main themes for the artist, the theme of life, sacrifice and death, was decided here for the first time in the images of the heroes of the revolution. The plot is based on the episode of the Civil War.

Here, as in the canvas “on the line of fire”, the tragic moment of the battle also visually dominates. And the action turns again on a high hill. In the foreground, two figures are a mortally wounded commissar and a fighter supporting him. Carried away by a whirlwind of battle, a detachment of the Red Army soldiers rolls from the hill. Moving forward by faith in the righteousness of their struggle, the fighters disappear behind the semicircle of the green hill, as if falling into an unknown abyss. And again death, albeit in the name of other ideals, gains a high meaning of sacrificial service to humanity. Therefore, it is no coincidence that in the composition of the two main characters depicted in the foreground, iconography of the drink is read – scenes of mourning Christ.

In this work, the original artistic system of the author, its understanding of the picturesque space and the coloristic system found its expression. Confering attention on the main group of this close -up, the master widely reveals the spatial depth with smooth silhouettes of the hills, distant villages, and the blue ribbon of the river. Petrov-Vodkin refuses the traditional linear perspective in favor of the “spherical”, which plays the role of an artistic metaphor, expressing in a poetic form a worldview of the author. Here is the key to understanding the plan – in the last moment the meaning of the life of the commissar, his heroic sacrifice, which affirmed the revolution, is revealed. The depicted event develops the framework of a single fact, acquires a truly planetary, universal sound. This work summed up many picturesque and philosophical searches for. With. Petrova-Vodkin.

“When they talk about Petrov-Vodkin and his school, the words arise: three-flowers (very badly named), an inclined prospect or spherical. These names do not explain the question of the question – what is the relationship of color to the tasks of movement. The color, as we know, has its density, weight, transparency, but the color accepted as pleasure, as a purely aesthetic impression, gives less than we could give if we presented the question of another order – its organic essence The question of the dependence of color on saturation of the form by one or another color, from their compositional position to take at least „The death of the commissioner ". People move, run not because they have a running pose, but because it is a dynamically developed composition of the form and color that I gave the plot, comrades, to give an idea of ​​the conjunction of the formal and meaningful meaning of the picture ”(from the transcript of the performance on the creative the evening K. With. Petrova-Vodkin in Mossha May 25, 1933)

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