Shterenberg David

Still life with a coffee pot 53x61 cm, oil on canvas, 1918

David Petrovich Shterenberg (1881-1948) – painter, graphic artist. The author of still lifes, landscapes, genre and thematic paintings, interiors. Theater Artist. One of the most original masters of Russian painting of the late 1910s – early 1930s.

Born in Zhitomir in the family of an entrepreneur. He studied at art studios in Odessa (1906) and at the School of Fine Arts. After leaving abroad in 1907 he settled in Paris. In France, D. Shterenberg studied at the Academy of A. Vitti with A. Martin, C. Van Dongen and E. Anglad (1906-1912). A participant in exhibitions since 1908. In 1917 he participated in a group exhibition together with A. Matisse, A. Ozanfan, M. Utrillo in Paris.

He returned to Russia in 1917. From 1918-1920. He was appointed head of the department of fine arts of the People’s Commissariat for Education, as well as chairman of the College of Fine Arts, where he worked until 1921. He was chairman of the “Society of Easel Artists” since 1925. In 1922, a participant in the “Exhibition of Three” (N. Altman, M. Chagall, D. Shterenberg) in Moscow, the group “Casket” in Paris (1925). Since 1918 he lived and worked in Moscow.

D. Shterenberg preferred painting, but he also designed performances, worked in the field of graphics – engraved, drew picture books using the principles of a schematic and planar children’s drawing, which was largely close to his “adult” style.

In portraits, the artist combines the maximum generalization with the tactile specificity of the image-type: a peasant girl (Aniska, 1926) with the same, “hungry,” still life on the table behind her; severe old peasant, majestic in the cold void of a snowy field (“Old”, 1925-2gg.). Such are the peasant images in his painting “The Agitator” (1927) – sublimely strict, closed, concentrated. The artist achieved in it the calm grandeur of an ancient fresco.

In the mid-twenties, D. Shterenberg creates an unusual pictorial genre – a cross between still life and landscape. “Bushes and herbs” (From the cycle “Texture and color”) 1924 is an image of translucent leaves, grasses, branches that are unrealistic in the world art of those years, either lying on ocher-yellow ground, or soaring in a fantastic The stingy gamut of light brown and faded green tones is unusually devoid of decorative contrasts, creating subtle shades of an image of an elusive magical dream, filled with an alarming sensation of fleeting existence.

The painting “Still Life with a Coffee Pot” is an image of simple things, just five objects: a sponge, a coffee pot, a spoon, a plate, a web. Common things are rude and poor, on the bare red void of the canvas, emphasized flat, devoid of spatial depth, and uniting, enveloping objects of the atmosphere.

In both early and late works, David Shterenberg is a still life artist. But the artist never engaged in naturalistic copying of things. D. Shterenberg was one of the first in the 20th century to take on the new, peculiar only to the artistic consciousness of this era, value of a thing: its routine and serial nature, its democracy. The thing interests the artist as an object with intrinsic qualities and structural patterns, almost always preserving the external structure in D. Sterenberg’s system.

Since the mid-1930s the author’s work sharply diverges from the changed state policy in the field of art. The attacks of criticism seriously affected the later works of D. Sterenberg. Only at the very end of life in the sketchy “Biblical motifs” (1947-48) did the artist have a new pictorial language, new dramatic intonations, which, unfortunately, he had no time to develop.

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