Kobtsev Aristarkh

Presentation of works by an outstanding Odessa artist of the first half of XX century

Kobtsev Aristarkh (Кобцевъ Аристархъ)



I am not a hero, but I am a Phoebus' warrior.
I've created the paintings album, and I am pleased with it.

Odessish, graphic arts teacher, professor of painting
A talented artist working in many genres of painting and graphic arts
Ostromenskiy school
Graduated from Ostromensky Art School in 1905 in Odessa, got the right to teach painting
From 1909 to 1920 is a member of the Association of South Russian Artists in Odessa
Kostandi society
USSR Union of Artists
From 1917 to 1920 is a member of the Association of Independent Artists in Odessa
From 1925 to 1929 is a member of the Kiriak Kostandi Association of Artists in Odessa
From 1938 to 1961 is a member of the Artist Union of the USSR. From 1938 to 1941 is the head of the AU's painting section in Odessa

Brief biography

Studied at the Ostromensky Private Art School in Odessa. Got nobility and teacher qualification
Starts working as a draftsman
Professor at a technical school of the Odessa Railway
Re-admitted to the Union of Artists of the Ukrainian SSR
Admitted to the Union of Artists of the USSR
February 28, 1961
Died. Buried at the 49th site of the 2nd Christian cemetery in Odessa.

Detailed biography

Aristarkh Aristarkhovich Kobtsev (April 6, 1884-February 28, 1961) biographies are included in encyclopedic editions, such as, for example, the Vocabulary of the USSR Academy of Arts edited by O. Volderburg, Encyclopedia of Contemporary Ukraine, biographical researches of Barkovska O.M., Lushchyk S.Z., Golubovsky E.M., and Gridin V.

The name of the artist is included in the Register of Professional Artists of the Russian Empire and the USSR. However, published biographies have a number of omissions inherent in the Soviet period of history. Aristarkh Aristarkhovich Kobtsev was born in the Aristarkh Fedotovich Kobtsev's family, technical specialist of the main railway workshop of the Odessa Railway.

The workshop was a very large enterprise with a staff of 3,000 people. The family had their own house on 12 Smirnovskaya Street (Shota Rustaveli St., Near Mills, Odessa) on a plot of 10 acres. Mother, Maria Georgievna Melnikova, was the daughter of an Odessa merchant, died of a disease in 1887. Aristarkh Kobtsev was the youngest child. He had brothers Vladimir and Emmanuel, and sister Zinaida.

1 / 14

Aristarkh Kobtsev studied at Technical School of the Odessa Railway (today Railway College) in 1898-1901 years. After the school, Kobtsev received a higher artistic education in the years 1901-1905 at Ostromensky Private Art School. The school worked in Odessa in 1900-1908 years. It's alumnus were graduated as teachers with personal nobility and the right to be appealed with title “The Honorable”.

The head of the school was Adolf Ostromensky. He was graduated from the Odessa Art School as the best alumni. Also, he was graduated from St. Petersburg Imperial Academy with the honor medal and the qualification of a class artist. Reviews of a number of artists of that time approve that the school was popular and gave good professional training. Graduates of the school often continued their education outside the borders of the Russian Empire. Majority of school alumni emigrated. Ostromensky emigrated from Russia too. So in the known lists of South Russian artists almost all graduated of this school are absent.

Aristarkh Kobtsev, aged 21 y.o., contrary to the will of his father, married the 18 y.o. daughter of a retired Kazakh, Elena Artemyevna Boyko, on July 20, 1905. Kobtsev left the father's house and rented an apartment not far away — on the street Molchanovskaya, 13 (today Skvortsova, Near Mills). In this apartment he would have been living the life. This move, as it turned out later, was the first fateful decision. There is a certificate from the party committee of the January plant that approved the real estate absence.

Aristarkh's brother, Vladimir, had grown to an imperial official before the revolution and was shot in the 1920s. Brother Emmanuel died of illness in adolescence. Zinaida married the son of the Odessa millionaire merchant Fedor Ivanovich Marcin. Ivan Marcin in 1897 started a second Odessa steam mill, for which he was awarded a medal. Marcin's family had houses in the Far Mills. Fedor also bought the estate and the forest near Saratov. When Kobtsev visited Saratov in 1906, he wrote graphic works “Aunt’s Forest”, “Holobovsky Park” in Saratov. Kobtsev's father died in 1933 at the age of 82 in Odessa.

Two sons were born in the family of Aristarkh — Valentine (in 1907) and Nikolai (in 1909). The younger, Nikolai, had artistic talent, but he died from an illness in 1924. Valentine lived a long life. In 1916, he enrolled in the third Odessa gymnasium and studied there until its closure by the Soviet authorities in mid-1919. Sergey Korolev studied in the same class with him. After the gymnasium, Valentin finished his studies at the Soviet school, graduated, according to tradition, Railway Technical School. During the hard times the railway fed students and gave coal them for heating. Valentin graduated with a technician degree and, according to an accelerated program, also graduated with an engineering degree at the Moscow Institute of Transport Engineers. Valentin was working on the railway and in the 30s he received offer to manage Odessa railway. But Valentin refused the proposition, because several of railway managers were executed. Then there was the World War II, in which he took part from July 1941. Valentin visited Berlin and Japan, graduated with the rank of military railway troops major and was honored by orders and medals. After the war he supervised the recovery of industry in Moldova and was honored with the Order of Lenin. Kobtsev V. A. died in 1999 in Odessa.

Along with his studies, Aristarkh Kobtsev, in order to provide his family and pay for his art school, began working as a draftsman in 1902. The second fateful decision of Kobtsev was in 1910 to get a teacher job of drawing and graphic art at the Railway School with the fulfillment of orders for drawing and design work of the workshop. The imperial educational committee promoted Aristarkh to the next title honored teacher of graphic art at the very beginning of 1917.

After the Socialist revolution of October 1917, his authority and participation in the training of railway workers played an important role. The workshop workers appreciated Kobtsev as a teacher from the folk masses, and a remarkable artist

At the same time, Kobtsev from 1907 to 1918 collaborated with Odessa illustrated magazines and newspapers. He drew caricatures in such Odessa newspapers as “Odessa News” (1907), “Odessa Courier” (1909), “Odessa Thought” (1909), illustrated appendices to the “Odessa Word” (1910), “Odessa News” (1912), such magazines as “Wave” (1910), “Crocodile” (1911-1912), “Bomb” (1917), “Life and Art” (Kiev, 1914), “Figaro” (1918). He graphically designed the cover of the magazine for Jewish children “Spikes” (1913) and the leading St. Petersburg art magazine “Apollo” for 1912, the cover of the first book of the poet Mark Taly “Evening Bowl” (1910).

In the works of E. M. Golubovsky, it was suggested that in 1943 Kobtsev illustrated the cover of a book of poems by Gumilyov published in Odessa, which was banned by Soviet power. The book had an anti-Soviet foreword. Autograph under such work the artist, of course, did not put.

Kobtsev actively participated in the life of the artistic world of Odessa. In 1909 at the age of 25, he was elected into the Association of South Russian Artists (ASRA). ASRA was founded in Odessa in 1890 and was one of the largest art associations in the empire outside Moscow and St. Petersburg. The company cooperated with the Moscow associations “Peredvizhniki” and “World of Art”. Up until 1919, every autumn opened another exhibition of artists, where A. Kobtsev took part. The painters tried to focus on the artistic life of the largest centers of culture — Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Munich. It was facilitated by the availability of subscriptions to German, French and English magazines, art criticism, books on history of arts. There were a lot of journals in the periods 1909-1914 and 1918-1922, for example, in the Kobtsev’s library.

Unfortunately, the situation in Odessa was not too conducive to the prosperity of art. There were a narrow circle of collectors and patrons of art, potential buyers of paintings, the atmosphere of a large commercial city, where business was always preferred to culture. “A man with a spark of God should flee from here — there is no other way out. Until Odessa citizens will learn to cherish their gifted persons, many of them will go to the grave, tired of fighting and suffering. Your place are not here, but in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Milan, and Florence, where talents are understood and appreciated” wrote the Odessa journalist. Under these conditions, ASRA acquired special importance for artists. It not only helped artists to produce and exhibit works, but, more importantly, contributed to their sales. After all, the majority of artists lived mainly due to professional work and teaching (as, say, K.Kostandi or A.Kobtsev). Almost all Odessa participants in periodic exhibitions were students of the Odessa Art School, which in different years gave a specialized primary, secondary, or higher education. The school at the level of secondary education (since 1900) gave the right to enter the Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg without examinations. This school attracted students from Jewish families in Odessa and Ukraine, who in different years were up to half of the student contingent.

The undoubted advantage of TURH (or FSRA, ASRA) was the lack of caste isolation, openness to all who wish to take part in exhibitions. Some conservatism in the creative attitude of the masters of the FSRA began to change after the shows in 1909-1910 and 1911 of two famous Salons, organized by the sculptor and painter with Munich education V. Izdebsky. The first salon was shown in Odessa, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Riga. The second, less ambitious, was in Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson. These were exhibitions of contemporary art, at which Odessa's citizens could get acquainted with the latest trends in foreign and domestic art. Many artists from two empire capitals, from Munich and Paris participated Saloons. Since 1909, at first irregularly (1909, 1913, 1914, 1916), alternative exhibitions of young artists have been organized by the FSRA, and since 1917 the Association of Independent Artists (AIA) had officially declared itself, bringing together youth art groups focused on contemporary art and European trends. Without leaving FSRA, in 1917, Kobtsev joined the AIA — member ticket number 16.

In general, the FSRA proved to be tolerant to new aesthetic trends and a number of members of the FSRA took part in the autumn painting exhibition of 1916. In the summer of 1918, the Odessa Association of Fine Arts organized a joint exhibition of FSRA and AIA.

After the establishment of Soviet power in 1920 all the old artists associations were closed and many artists emigrated. Kobtsev joined to the Professional Union of Artists organized in 1920 (member ticket number 173). Kostandi died in 1921 and in honor of him the Kostandi Art Association was founded in 1922. Kobtsev joined to it when the association began to organize exhibitions in 1925 (member ticket number 34). The association was being sharply criticized by Soviet authorities and in 1929 has been dissolved. In the late thirties, the Soviet government greatly increased control of artists creativity. In 1938, the Ukrainian SSR Artists Union (UAU) Congress was held. Also in 1938 Kobtsev was accepted as a member of this union. Because Kobtsev was a respected artist, Odessa artists elected Kobtsev a chairman of Odessa branch painting section. After the de-occupation of Ukraine Kobtsev was elected again to the UAU. It happened on June 26, 1944. And after the unification of all Republican unions into a single Union of Artists of the USSR, in 1960 he received a ticket of a member of this Union.

Membership required systematic participation in exhibitions of these associations. Kobtsev participated in almost all their exhibitions held in Odessa.

In the newspaper “Chervoniy Sichnevets”, November 6, 1940, in the article “Notable People of the Plant”, noted that Kobtsev, in addition to Odessa, took part in exhibitions of paintings in Moscow. In the certificate, issued by the Odessa branch of the Union of Artists of the Ukrainian SSR on 04/12/1960, it is noted that Kobtsev took part in the All-Union and Republican art exhibitions. Also, some of Georgia museums (before the revolution) purchased paintings and those participated in local exhibitions.

From 1944 to 1953 Kobtsev worked at the Odessa art-production workshops. Further Kobtsev retired. Aristarkh Aristarkhovich Kobtsev died in his apartment at Molchanovskaya 13, with his family, February 28, 1961, and was buried in the 49th section of the Odessa Second Christian Cemetery with relatives. Rest in peace ...

The reputation of a teacher from the workers, the support of the workers of the restored plant, the son — an army officer who went through the war, allowed Kobtsev to avoid reprisals after the return of Soviet power, although a number of Odessa artists were repressed. But Kobtsev was no longer allowed to teach.

The artistic heritage of Kobtsev includes more than 1000 works of various genres. Unwillingness to cooperate with the authorities did not nominate Kobtsev to the artists, whose name is widely known in the USSR, but allowed him to live a relatively quiet life (in a remote province by the sea, as Nobel Prize poet I. Brodsky wrote). Before the revolution, the leading Odessa artists perceived Kobtsev as a young talented man. However, his place of work in the Railway workshop school did not allow him to contact with leading painters of Empire capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. After the revolution the Soviet authorities liked either servants or dead in time artists. Such people the Soviet authorities easily titled great artists. Kobtsev painting were mostly out of public life after his death because his heritage was not associated with the Soviet ideology and socialist realism. Interest to Kobtsev is reviving in independent Ukraine

Kobtsev’s heritage can be divided into five stages.

The first stage, pre-revolutionary, is represented by wonderful graphic works made with ink. These are landscapes, portraits, Greek mythology and fantasy works. A separate type of creativity is faces of contemporaries. Some works were printed by newspapers and magazines.

The second stage, pre-revolutionary, is associated with the appearance of many color paintings, painted in both watercolor and oil, mostly small format. Oil paintings are distinguished by good colors and a wide variety of styles of performance. Paintings of different genres were painted: portraits, fantasy works, mythology, several landscapes.

Kobtsev did not want to paint leaders portraits and ideological socialist art when the Soviet power was established. Therefore, in the third stage, 1924 to 1941, Kobtsev was mainly a landscape painter. In that period Kobtsev drew also a lot of portraits in pencil. Mostly there were portraits of relatives.

At the fourth stage, the occupation of Odessa, Kobtsev was icon painter. He wrote a lot of original icons. Kobtsev also continued to paint landscapes, portraits of fellow citizens.

Finally, in the fifth, post-war stage, series of canvases were written about the war, partisans, and destruction. These canvases were purchased by Soviet museums. There were, for example, Odessa historical museum (“Fire at the Plant named after January Uprising”, “Battle of Luzanovka during the heroic defense of Odessa”, “Meeting of the headquarters of the partisan detachment of Vladimir A. Molodtsov-Badayev in the catacombs of 1941-1942”, “An uprising of Odessa railway workshops workers in 1903”), Odessa Art Museum (“The North Landscape”), Luhansk Art Museum (“Ours came”) acquired by museums of Georgia, Baltic States and Russia. Many of pictures of pre-revolution stages were taken out Odessa in the period of large-scale emigration.

Replicas of Kobtsev contemporaries

<Previous Next>

“At the exhibition of the United Artists Association in 1913 Kobtsev's Beardsley-like graphic works are interesting. His oil works are good. ”

- I.Sh. “Youth”, No. 2-3, May 1913, p. 24.
(First stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“The exhibition in April 1914, which has a well-executed catalog with articles by V. Kandinsky, M. Simonovich, M. Gershenfeld, V. Nilus and numerous illustrations by Kobtsev, enjoys great success.”

- “Life and Art”, Kiev, No. 5, 1914, p.14.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“There is a desire to express the fabulous world in works by Mr. Kobtsev inspired by Roerich and Vrubel. ”

- Gershenfeld M . “Apollo”, St. Petersburg, 1914. No. 5. P. 57.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“Too clear succession from all gods demonstrates A. Kobtsev. He exhibited a number of works that are so different in the general tone of the painting, and it is difficult to catch the artist's true face. He tries himself sometimes in transparent bluish-green tonalities, then resorts to sharp and heavy contrasts, goes from the sonority of plein air to the dullness of museum tones. And only his miniatures in iridescent enamel and graphic works, carefully and lovingly finished, remain perfect. Perhaps, the artist's real sympathies are directed towards them”

- Simonovich M. “Odessa News”. 10 November 1916.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“He perceives Beardsley through the prism of his faithful follower, namely the Russian graphic artist Feofilaktov. Like the latter, he builds his fantastic landscapes, inhabiting them with images of Greek mythology. To these influences, he also introduces the manner of old engravings. And he uses it very skillfully. It is necessary, as in miniatures, to peer at his pen drawings, and only then the qualities of his work are revealed: calligraphic precision, variety and thoroughness of the stroke. Even in the smallest details, the stroke obediently follows the form, embraces and fills the linear plane.”

- Simonovich M. “Odessa News”. 10 December 1916.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“The works of A. Kobtsev mark the transition from impressionistic plein air to museum tones. In graphics, he is a diligent follower of Beardsley.”

- Gershenfeld M. “Apollo”, St. Petersburg, 1917. No. 2-3.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“Mr. Kobtsev is making undoubted successes (two landscapes, eight genres and three miniatures). The psyche of this artist is mainly occupied by French painting. Some of the compositions are quite complex and well constructed. The most interesting are his miniatures, where he masters more the general tone and greater harmony in the composition”.

- Zolotov S. “Odessa Newspaper”. 26 November 1917.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“A.A. Kobtsev exhibited many artistically interesting things. This artist promises to expand on a large scale in the future.”

- Zlatogorov I. Southern thought. Odessa, 23 december 1917.
(Second stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“Among the Independent Artists people are pay attention to the paintings by Kobtsev. These paintings are interesting in composition and color (“Holiday”, “Over the lake”). His "Pano" is weaker, the heads of the fauns are arranged in one and the same way. ”

- Shulgina N. Free life. Odessa, 28 June 1918.
(Third stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“Kobtsev exhibits up to two dozen of large and small canvases. This fertility of the artist is unfavorable reflected in the quality side of his work. The composition is broken, and the colors are too corny. His works look like works by Hans Makart.”

“A. Kobtsev exhibited a lot of things, but all of them are “impersonal”. They do not bear the stamp of deep individuality.”

- Zlatogorov I. Southern Thought. Odessa, 4 December 1918.
(Third stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“Mr. Kobtsev's “Panno” is lightly and joyfully painted. “Pastoral” and “In flowers” are good examples of impressionistic enthusiasm. Notably, in the spirit of good classical precepts, human bodies were written by Mr. Kobtsev, although even here he sometimes goes over the edge and gives too cloying line of body bending.”

- Bobovich B. Theater Day, Odessa, 10 November / 27 December 1918. No. 194.
(Third stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“[A. Kobtsev] has a clear artistic personality. His creative aspirations are the search for a picturesque beginning in nature and character. Both are means of recreating a real image. The artistic method of A. Kobtsev is rather the result of an independent reworking of the new Western art, primarily impressionism, as well as the influence of Russian masters affected by impressionism. A. Kobtsev does not limit himself to any one genre. He works on a landscape with equal interest, as on a portrait or a household theme. In his artistic quest, one can see the desire to achieve the most intense sound of color. He achieves brightness and purity of tone. Intensely colored shadows, a bold juxtaposition of cold and warm tones give the landscapes of A. Kobtsev festive elegance and cheerfulness. Their main feeling is optimism.

- Kotlyar M. Creative report of artists A.A. Kobtsev and M.D. Muzelmakher. Odessa, 1941.
(Fourth stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“The tasks that the artist will have to solve in more depth are the harmonization of tones, the construction of the scale. The detailed development of halftones in order to get rid of the variegation and monotonous warms range of his individual works. In the last works by A. Kobtsev, however, we notice a certain shift towards an increasingly calm and balanced tonality. This indicates the further growth of the artist. A. Kobtsev is also an interesting portrait painter. Depicting only the head in a portrait, he always gives a sharp, accentuated characterization. This characteristic is given by the angularity of the form, the unexpectedness of the movement, the capriciousness of the line drawing the facial features. In his portrait works A. Kobtsev does not fully develop two sides - materiality and volume. I would like to see a more tangible transfer of hair and skin of the face and a more energetic sculpting of the form through light and shadow.”

- Kotlyar M. Creative report of artists A.A. Kobtsev and M.D. Muzelmakher. Odessa, 1941.
(Fourth stage of Kobtsev's creative life)

“Kobtsev's works distinguished themselves by the spirit of searches, the intensity of artistic pursuits.”

- Alekseev-Popov V. Bolshevik Flag, December 1944. №164.
(Fifth stage of Kobtsev's creative life)


In the history of art, it is generally accepted to operate with “first” names that determined the development of artistic practices for centuries. By default, it is assumed that artists did not work in a vacuum, and that the symbolic and technical field of their innovations was being shaped in a professional environment that prepared and made possible this promotion, after all, the readiness of the critics and the public to their perception. But this professional environment itself is often left behind brackets. It is interesting only to specialists such as art critics, collectors or amateur researchers, including local historians.

The presented album of creativity by the Odessa artist Aristarkh Kobtsev is significant not only for specialists but also for the public for many reasons. First, it presents to everybody an interesting visible image of artistic “Odessa that we have lost.”

1 / 10

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

Intensive exhibition activities of entire artistic groups that gave birth, contrary to the opinion of M.F.Freudenberg, public interest to the work of contemporary local artists, understanding of the latest trends in art, ultimately, the development of collecting practices, allowed to remain in the "storms of history", works of a typical representative of the Odessa artistic environment Aristarkh Kobtsev. His creative style is undoubtedly odessish, cultivated by the FSRA, which leads to an impressionistic style with a dense pastiche brushstroke. Not so much light, which is typical for impressionists, but more the heat feels as if trembling "through hidden eyelids" in A. Kobtsev's landscapes, especially on views of the coast, houses and cottages of Fontan and Near Mills, the Black Sea slopes and parks, even the winter landscapes of Odessa.

The same coloristic technique is typical for portraits, especially until the 1920s. The muffled contrast of red and green not only emotionally brings the model closer to the viewer, but also dramatizes the object of contemplation for the public, translating it into an extra-historical, almost timeless space. A human forever - it does not matter, it is the “Minstrel” (#12) or a portrait of the young deceased son Nikolai Kobtsev (#10), allegorically decorative “Ancient” (#4) or “Portrait of an Old Man” (#5), “Youth” (#144) or numerous portraits of his wife (#29-36)!

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

During the time the author’s technique was changing. We can see new motives of Kobtsev’s works that can discern and restore the events of artistic Odessa of the first half of the twentieth century. Since N.Skadovsky, Kuznetsov N., and Kuznetsov D. (co-organizers of the FSRA), V.A. Izdebsky, and Ya.A.Peremen had taken a titanic cultural work to educate not only the public but also Odessa artists on the problems of contemporary fine art, art history, the current trends in Western artistic practice, the artistic environment in Odessa was changed forever.

And A. Kobtsev as a representative of the Odessa artistic tradition combined in his work dense formalism with coloristic expression, sometimes in landscapes approaching the fauvist, and in some works almost to abstraction (“Fantasy Portrait” (#40), “City Fantasy” (#131)). On the one hand he painted a sharp technical innovation, on the other hand he painted bourgeois decorativeness, these were the main interest of the Odessa public at the turn of the 19th - 20th centuries.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

In the artist's work we can find decorative vignettes with stylized portraits of women, almost lubok-style paintings of a fair, a holiday by the sea, merchant families against the background of an “Orthodox” landscape, and a pastoral scene painting with girls and boys in the spirit of A. Watteau, but made in an acutely modernist expressionist color painting technique. Especially revealing in this sense are the delightful watercolors of Aristarkh Kobtsev. Although was not met with one of the ideological inspirers of the ASRA, a teacher of the watercolor school of painting, E.S. Villiers de l'Isle Adan, but almost all ASRA senior members and exhibitors of the Odessa ASRA periodic exhibitions were greatly impressed by the works of this outstanding chamber artist and tried to take at least a few lessons from him. Anyway, in charming watercolors of Aristarkh Kobtsev, an understanding of the features of this technique is felt. An elegant rethinking of classic paintings from Rococo to painting of artists of “World of Arts” (Mir Iskusstva) association, caricatures and advertising sketches, portraits, and especially numerous landscapes demonstrates not only the explicit mastery of these most complex techniques, a firm hand and strong professionalism.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

But also the widest knowledge, “sophistication” in the history of art, allegorical thinking, development of various directions of space formation on the plane. It is interesting to observe how technology is precisely associated with the master with a certain artistic worldview.

A. Kobtsev’s tempera operates with the color structures of the space, emphasizing its materiality and implicit realism. This undoubtedly refers to the early V. Kandinsky, presented at the Salons of V. Izdebsky about sixty works. But Kobtsev’s worldview more refers to V. Kandinsky’s program article "Content and Form." Pastel unfolds various aspects of decoration and color and light correlation. A pencil often mixed with watercolor and gouache explores the reality in its romantic sense. Whether it was an elegiac image of a reading girl, a pastoral look of a hut in steppe or a nude model. The artist reacts sensitively to the peculiarities of the technique, which sets the principles of writing, leads along.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

Understanding the possibilities and limits of oil, tempera, pencil, ink gives an opportunity for a professional game of imitating one technique with another (for example, watercolors imitate oils and vice versa). And this not only reveals the masterful level of A. Kobtsev to the viewer, but also raises a number of questions to the researcher. It is hardly to find a reasonable answer to these questions.

For example, most of the oil paintings that have come down to us were made on plywood, blackboard, or various types of paper (paper, cardboard, and whatman paper). Canvas as a material was rarely used by the master. What caused such a choice? Were there artistic problems or purely economic issues? I can assume that the cause is in possibilities that the material reveals. Works on plywood and paper more often show almost watercolor smears using the technique of liquid oil, sometimes in combination with accentuated pasty glazes. Works in the same technique on canvas are denser, material, the air in them freezes. The fluidity characteristic and the mobility of color layers would have disappeared in Kobtsev's “plywood”.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

The artist’s affiliation with creative associations throughout his life also speaks in favor of a meaningful choice of material. But even since the ASRA, one of the main tasks of such associations was to provide the artist with paint, materials, and tools at a reduced price or even on credit.

A number of works by A. Kobtsev were included in the album have a clearly sketchy character. And this is also a tradition of Odessa collecting. Hence the artistic worldview was formed. The Association of South Russian artists repeatedly organized in the city exhibitions of sketches, which were incredibly popular with the public and traditionally ended with auction sales. As wrote about such event FSRA member artist N.G. Vuchetich “At the exhibition, there was a mass of visitors, and almost all the exhibits were bought very quickly. But these were extremely interesting and were bought at very cheap prices.” An active visit to the exposition indicated the desire of Odessa residents to get acquainted with a new aspect of the artistic creativity of South Russian masters, to expand their knowledge in the field of painting, and also, with due regard for the entrepreneurial atmosphere of Odessa, to acquire as a souvenir, for interior decoration, etc. the work of their favorites, especially since sketches cost was less than paintings.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

The peculiarity of the Odessa school of painting was to paint a sketch in several broad strokes. Artists created an almost flat color spot and a spatial volume especially in landscapes with architectural objects. This peculiarity obliged to the sketches. And this miracle is equally present in the works of K. Kostandi, in the landscapes of A. Kobtsev, and in the works of O. Slishinsky or O. Kotov.

And it is absolutely impossible to leave aside the refined graphics and pencil drawings by Aristarkh Kobtsev. V.Izdebsky, the senior member of the ASRA, noted the professionalism and diversity of the graphic talent of the artist even at the dawn of his work. This was evidenced by the selection works for exhibitions, primarily graphic works. Ink, imitating classical incisal engraving and chiaroscuro, filigree fabulous drawings with a feather (“King-Swan” (#293), a series with satyrs (#292,#294), “Cupid” (#295)), genre paintings, and caricature faces! The artist masterly uses practically all graphics techniques from silhouette drawing to grisaille and blurring. Long-term work as a teacher of drawing and graphic art honed "washing". This is a special technique of architects and draftsmen. Thanks to this technique the volume and gradation of tone from light to dark is “layered-on”. It is especially evident not only in enchanting landscapes but also in the people portraits.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

This part of the album especially attracts attention. But not only the graphics was a manifested skill of Kobtsev. For me, at least, this is a portal to the great hopes of the era of Odessa modernization with beautiful faces of bygone times, naive and demonstrative nudity, acmeist ladies in the shade of trees, singers of cabaret, noble college girls and Odessa opera regulars ...

Cooperation with periodic media and publishing houses, the creation of graphic caricatures made it possible to capture time itself. Urban types, characteristic scenes were captured with a masterful light stroke.

Someone, long-dead Alik, a peasant from Privoz, a fashion-monger in a Parisian hat, a Turk in a fez — these are the images of Odessa modernization epoch, which has passed away forever. And Leo Tolstoy, who proclaimed non-violence, and couples of orphan girls on Mikhailovskaya Square (which has long time ago been built up with houses). The square is between the women's Holy Archangel Michael Monastery and the 3rd men's gymnasium, where the artist's son studied. And the Easter nest with chickens which is the great pencil drawing! Pencil drawings by Aristarkh Kobtsev from this album can be presented in general as a textbook for graphics students.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

All pencil techniques from Italian to pastel and watercolor pencil, independently and in combination, depending on the mood, content, and genre were subject to the master. Virtuoso landscapes, genre and boudoir scenes, mythological sketches and almost lithography of city suburbs put the graphics of this Odessa artist on a par with such representatives, of the local artistic tradition as P.A. Nilus (with his Park Marazli series) and S.Ya.Kishinevsky, with whom he undoubtedly was familiar and quite possibly friendly. This album opens for us not only the opportunity to get acquainted with the works of Aristarkh Kobtsev, but also to visually feel highly professional level of understanding of purely artistic problems, technical problems, on which Odessa artistic tradition is based.

Analysis made by Art Ph.D., professor Ann Missyun

Album of reproductions

The album contains 930 reproductions of paintings and graphic works by Aristarkh Kobtsev
The biography and the included in the book analysis of creativity shows the high art level of pictures and graphics
For the first time are published cartoons for more than 400 Odessa citizens, the recognition of which can be interesting object of study

View the album    Buy the album

Personal exhibition in World Club of Odessa citizens

In Odessa, the World Club of Odessa showed paintings by Aristarkh Kobtsev
Professor of the Odessa National Polytechnic University Alexey Stopakevich, a relative of Kobtsev, collected and presented a collection of his works, as well as made an art album from which you can judge many things, including the color of intellectuals in the late 19th — early 20th century
Art historian Alexander Dmitrenko compared the exhibition with a real time capsule

Watch video    Journalists materials

Exhibitions of the past

We will be happy to cooperate with professional art historians, bookstores, libraries and art dealers.

To contact us, please open the tab "Contacts" in the website menu. We would appreciate it if you could share information about the site in social networks.

Print Аристарх Кобцев / Aristarkh Kobtsev Print