Two Girls on the beach
Two Girls on the beach

Lyushin, Vladimir Ivanovich

1898 - 1970

Two Girls on the beach

Oil on canvas

130 x 100cm


Signed and dated lower right



Private Collection Germany


Certificate dated 22/4/06 from Vladimir Sysoev, Professor at the Russia Academy of paintings, sculpture and architecture(Glazunov Academy) and author of numerous books on the period including"Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Deinika. Paintings, sculpture,graphic art(with the cooperation of with the artist)," 1980, Izobrazitelnoe Iskusstvo art publishers.  Sysoev dates the painting to the 1930's and reads the abraided signature as 1933.

Vladimir Lyushin was a founding member of OST, the Society of Easel Painters whose membership included A. Deineka, Y. Pimenov and S. Nikritin.   The society was formed by a group of students from VKhuTeMas, the leading Moscow Art School of the 1920’s which was heavily influenced by the avant-garde.    D. Shterenberg was the first chairman and it included members of three groups; Projectionism (whose members included S. Nikritin and K. Red’ko), Concretivism (whose members included Lyushin himself and Yu. Merkulov), and the Group of Three (consisting of Deineka, Pimenov and A. Goncharov).

At the time a passionate debate was going on about the nature of art; its purpose; its place in society; the role of the artist. Many artistic movements and groups actively sought to distance themselves from representative art and easel painting, and to direct their activity towards industrial subjects.  The artists of OST group were opposed to that outlook, and they chose the name of the group to further stress their opposition: Obschestvo Stankovistov (the Society of Easel-Painters).  Exhibitions, to which Lyushin regularly contributed works, were held in 1925, 1926, 1927 and 1928. 

Lyushin’s paintings, which are well distributed around Russian museums, show contemporary subjects in a style which fused modern constructivist influences with Russian traditions, in particular icon painting.  Like Deineka and Pimenov much of Lyshin’s production in the early 1930’s was graphic and poster work and posters such as The Young Communist League are the shock Battalion of the five year plan(see below) of 1931 show the artist’s taut control of space and composition.

The Young Communist League  

Although ‘Two Girls on the beach’ shows Lyushin in a more private and reflective mood, probably painting for his own enjoyment, the composition is still carefully constructed along in a series of triangles.  The main triangle of the composition starts bottom left and runs up the left leg of the walking girl to the head of the stationary girl and then back down the same girl’s right arm.  A series of smaller triangles sit within the main composition such as the walking legs of the moving girl.  On a more simple  level the painting simply shows two girls on a sandy beach beside the sea probably either painted or based on Lyushin’s recollections of holidays in the Crimea.   Seaside subject matter was popular amongst the other members of VKhuTeMas and OST such as A. Deineka and Y. Pimenov for its ability to glorify energy, health and the beauty of youth which suited the aesthetic canon of Russia at that time.

At Sebastopol  

‘At Sebastopol’,  by Aleksandr. Deineka, Tretyakov State gallery.

In Lyushin’s ‘Two Girls on the beach,’ the two girls seem unconnected neither talking nor looking at each other.  The artist focuses on the two figures with a minimum of distractions except for the costumes and white towels.  The only addition to the scene is the seagull caught mid flight which at first seems superfluous but in fact counter balances the right hand site of the composition as the blond girl moves toward the left edge of the composition.

The artist has paid considerable attention to capturing the healthy skin tones of the young girls and the warmth of the sun is absorbed and reflected off the sand.  Lyushin remained an important figure in OST, the key movement in Russian painting of the 1920’s, until it was dissolved in April 1932.  Two girls on a beach’ is a rare example of his work outside of a museum.

We are grateful to Vladimir Sysoev for his help with cataloguing this painting. 




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