Item #AT-0122

By Viktor F. Letyanin (1921 - )


"Sunflowers" by Artist Viktor F. Letyanin. He is a known artist from the Iron Curtain period in Russia.


(1921 - )


30"H x 53"W

Viktor Letyanin was born on November 30, 1921 in the town of Kalinino in the Gorki region. Born to peasants, Letyanin spent most of his childhood working, not playing. His father, a WWI invalid who has organized the local collective farm, was dispossessed and exiled. Then as a "Kulak's son" he was not allowed to attend school. However, he was a very persistent child and moved to Gorki to attend the Gorki Art School there and only studied for two years before the outbreak of WWII and he as called to military service at the northwestern front. He suffered three minor wounds during his time as lieutenant and eventually was demobilized in 1945. Later the war would become one of the principle themes of his work. He was awarded four military orders and three medals for his service.

Letyanin returned to his education at the Gorki Art School and graduated in 1949. His final painting, "Crossing the River Dnieper" was highly appreciated and he was recommended for further studies. He lost a competition for acceptance to the I.E. Repin College, but instead of giving up he entered the Tartu Art Institute and studied there for a year. The next year he was transferred to a second group in the I.E. Repin College. There he entered the workshop of R.R. Frentz and graduated from the college in 1955. After graduating Letyanin returned to Gorki to focus on painting his interests; everyday life in the Soviet Union. During the 1950s Letyanin worked hard to capture the individuality and character of the models in his portraits and depicted landscapes of the Russian countryside with a clear intention of illustrating the truth of the evolving land.

Letyanin then turned to the war. Many of his landscapes oppose the eternal beauty of the scenery to the horrors of war. Letyanin began exhibiting at a regional show of Tabov artists. He established himself publicly as a specialist in the genre of everyday life. His work was selected for two prestigious exhibitions held in Moscow in 1957. He also painted several important commissioned pieces, including "The Last Grenade" and "Soldiers". However, many felt that Letyanin's works did not fit either the official Soviet conception of art or the renegade abstract art form. Letyanin felt that they were intimidated by the "uncontrollable force" of truth in his works.

Letyanin has participated in many art exhibitions in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Novgorod, Gorki, and Volgograd. He was honored with his first one-man show in 1976 and his works are in the collections of numerous Russian museums and the United States.

Letyanin's early exhibitions are as follows:

1955 Exhibitions by local artists, Tambov

1956 "Autumn Exhibition of Studies and Sketches by Gorki Artists" Art Salon Gorki

1957 "Exhibition of Works by Young Artists of the Soviet Union for the 6th World

Festival of Youth and Studies" Academy of Arts, Moscow

1957 "Exhibition of Works by Artists of the Russian Federation Dedicated to the

40th Anniversary of the Great October Revolution" Gorki Park, Moscow

1958 "Exhibition of Works by Artists of the Volga Region" Yaroslavl

1967 Tonal Exhibition "The Great Volga"

1972 "Exhibition by Gorki and Novgorod Artists" Leningrad

1974 Zonal Exhibition "The Great Volga"

1975 Exhibition Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Victory in WWII, Gorki