About the artist Vladimir Lubarov
Vladimir Lubarov was born on 4 September 1944 in Moscow. Before the Russian Revolution,
his paternal grandmother ran a tavern in Kharkiv, Ukraine, while his grandfather
was an inveterate gambler. His parents, modest Soviet civil servants, moved to Moscow
just before the birth of their son and settled into a communal apartment on Shchipok
Street. In his childhood, Vova – the Russian diminutive for Vladimir – loved to
draw battle scenes in which, without fail, the Soviet soldiers defeated the fascists.
At the age of 11, Lubarov took his entry exams for admittance into an art school
under the Surikov Institute – the renowned MSKhSh (Moscow Middle School for Artists),
from which many famous Russian artists graduated. In those days, the school prepared
artists to paint in the Soviet Realism style, but thanks to teachers who had studied
art in pre-revolution Russia, Lubarov received a good education, studying art history
and becoming familiar with the classic paintings and drawings.
After finishing school, Lubarov began acquiring his substantial life experience,
working for a time as a vehicle painter for a car pool fleet and serving in the
Soviet Army. In 1963 he entered Moscow State University of Printing Arts (then the
Moscow Polygraphic Institute) in the Faculty of Graphic Design, and after graduating
worked as a book illustrator and designer for a stretch of nearly 30 years. Lubarov
asserts that the choice of such a profession was motivated not only by his love
of books, but also by the fact that in the 1960s and 70s book illustration represented
a small creative and intellectual oasis amidst Soviet culture, where party and ideological
censors rarely ventured; thus, artists and book lovers could feel relatively free.
From 1969 to 1990, Lubarov illustrated more than a hundred books by authors like
Rudolf Erich Raspe, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Voltaire, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Stanislaw
Lem, Nikolai Gogol, and the Strugatsky brothers. During this same time, he also
worked as the art director for the journal Chemistry and Life (Khimiya i Zhizn'),
one of the boldest and most freedom-loving publications of the time. Later, he worked
at Tekst, the first private publisher in Russia.
In 1991 he suddenly abandoned his position as a prestigious artist from a major
metropolis and moved to the village of Peremilovo, on the border between Vladimir
and Yaroslavl oblasts, where he attempted to adapt to the rustic lifestyle and take
up simple village life. Much to his surprise, Lubarov began painting his fellow
villagers, as well as pictures for a Russian series, subsequently entitled Village
of Peremilovo. In the opinion of some art critics, in this series Lubarov continued
the tradition of the lubok, a Russian print that was popular some 300 years earlier,
creatively rethinking it, adding contemporary content, and lightly tinting it with
Based on several of the works in this series, the British publisher Appletree released
the book Russian Proverbs (Russkie poslovitsy), which for almost 20 years has been
reprinted in the USA and Europe.
Following the Village of Peremilovo collection, the series City of Shchipok was
completed. This series constitutes the artist's nostalgic memories of his post-war
childhood on Shchipok Street in the Zamoskvorech' district in the 1950s, in addition
to his observations of reality in small provincial towns where, far from the bustle
of the capital, the unhurried – at times sad, at times happy – distinctive life
of the "real" Russia flows along.
Since 1998, Vladimir Lubarov has been working on his Jewish Happiness series, his
imaginative look at Russian Jews, whose lives organically fit the reality that characterizes
the Russian way of life. In this series, Jewish life is uniquely depicted by Lubarov,
who was raised on the Hassidic proverbs his grandmother told him and, as an adult,
was enraptured by the books of Sholem Aleichem and Isaac Bashevis Singer, authors
discovered anew in post-perestroika Russia.
Today, Vladimir Lubarov is a famous Russian artist. There have been three documentaries
shot about him, notably by the state TV channel Kultura. His works have been acquired
by the State Russian Museum and the State Tretyakov Gallery, and can be found in
the collections of many museums in Russia, not to mention in private collections
in Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy,
Israel, the USA, and Canada