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Anna Golubkina and Russia
Russia is not so famous for art and sculptor. There have been writers, poets, and artists but is not known for producing any significant women sculptresses'. In this barren field one woman does stand out. She is Anna Semoyonovna Golubkina. She was born in 1864 and died in 1927, at the age of 63. She has the distinction of being born in Tsarist Russia and having lived through the October revolution and lived to work in Lenin's Soviet state.
Anna has many distinctions. Firstly she was from a village with a peasant background and secondly had no formal education. Despite this lack of education it is to her credit that she scaled the heights of sculptor. She was born in Zaraysk, Ryazan Gubernia, Russia to a agrarian family. Her father died when she was only 2 and she was brought up by her mother and grandfather Policarp Sidorovich Golubkin. From available accounts he was a vegetable farmer who lived reasonably well.
Though the Golubkin family was reasonably well off Anna and sister never had any formal schooling. Despite this handicap, she along with her elder sister Alexandra learned to read and write.
Anna had a god given gift of art and she made sculptors from a young age. These were noticed by the local art teacher, who recommended that she try and enter the Art school in Moscow.
In 1889 at the age of 25 Anna sat for the entrance examination to Otto Gunst's Classes for Elegant arts. Anna failed in some of the theory papers, but sculptor Sergey Volunkin was impressed with her sculptor 'Praying old Woman'. He prevailed on the school to admit Anna. The school even exempted her from paying tuition fees as she was very poor. This was during the period teh Tsar ruled over Russia, so things were not as bad as made out by Soviet historians.
The school Anna had enrolled suffered from bad times and closed. It was primarily because of lack of finance and sponsorship. She was lucky as she got an entry to Moscow School of Painting, Sculptor and Architecture on the strength of her work in the school.
Anna studied at the school from 1890-94. In 1894 she shifted to the Imperial Academy of Arts at St Petersburg and had her first heart break. This was the period when she developed a crush for the famous sculptor Vladimir Beklemishev. This crush turned to unrequited love and perhaps Vladimir never knew about it. This was to have a deep effect on her psyche in the years to come. As far as Beklemishev he was arrested by the Bolsheviks and deported to Novorzhev in Pskov Governorate and died there on 21 December 1919
Generally in those days most artists and sculptors went to Paris to hone their skills. Anna also went to Paris in 1895. She studied at the Academie Colarossi for 2 years. This was also the period when she had no money and lived on a spartan budget. She produced some excellent sculptors despite her handicap including 'The Iron One' which was greatly appreciated. The period in the French academie was again tragic for her as she perhaps had another unrequited love, which almost led to her attempted suicide.
Anna now got a tremendous break. She became an assistant to the famous Auguste Rodin for 3 years (1897-1900). She returned to Moscow in 2001 and was attracted to the revolutionary concepts of Karl Marx and Lenin. She took part in the 1905 failed Russian revolution and was sentenced to one year in prison. The authorities released her earlier as her health had worsened.
Place in Field of Art and Sculptor
She concentrated on her art and began to receive a steady income, but in a magnanimous gesture distributed it to needy friends She was an enthusiastic supporter of the 1917 Russian revolution led by Lenin. But her enthusiasm for the revolution appeared to have waned when many members of the Duma were executed. But she did not oppose the revolution by any physical act .In fact she accepted a job under the new regime. This is difficult to reconcile, but perhaps the situation in Russia at that time with all around killings and murders left no option for her. To understand why she accepted and reconciled with the Soviet state, one must understand the state of affairs in Russia at that time. Lenin and Trotsky had introduced the "concentration camps" and hundreds of intellectual were deported to Siberia where they died. She probably thought it better to compromise with her beliefs and survive.
She continued her work on sculptors and in 1927 fell ill. She decided to go to her sister's house for recovery, but died a few days later. She was then working on a sculptor of Alexander Bok.
The Soviet government held her in high esteem and her studio in Moscow was converted to a museum in 1932. She remains Russia's greatest impressionist sculptor. Anna remains a tragic figure who emerged from a peasant background to scale the highest level of art. But she never found love in her life and that may have had an effect on her psyche. We can only fault her for her tacit support of Lenin and his brand of Communisms. She was a supporter of the revolution but killings all round made her disenchanted, yet she remains a beacon for communism of that period.