Russian art lost the author of the «New Reality»
At the end of February died Eliy Belyutin, an artist, a historian and art expert and the author of the «New Reality» art studio. He was one of the leaders of the Soviet non-formal art that developed after Stalin's death on the wave of Khruschev's «spring».
Eliy Belyutin was born in 1925. In 1941 he went to war as a volunteer, where he was wounded and decommissioned. Since 1942 he studied at the Moscow Art Institute named after Vassily Surikov. His teachers were such great representatives of the Russian avant-garde as Aristarkh Lentulov of the «Jack of the Diamonds» group and Pavel Kuznetsov of the symbolists' group «Blue Rose».
In 1954 Belyutin founded an art studio of painting called «new Reality». He taught his students to «understand and re-create an object with more focus on feelings and thought that an artist wants to express. To realize not only what the artist sees, but also HOW he sees it. This way an artist's approach to its subject becomes more creative, his attitude towards the media used in drawing or painting becomes more individual in order to express both some traits of the model as well as the specifics of the artist's perception of the subject matter», wrote Nina Molina, an art expert and Belyutin's wife, about his method
By 1962 the number of Belyutin's followers reached 2,000 people. At the same time the works of the artist himself became famous all over the Soviet Union as well as around the world: he received recognition at the Book forum in Poland, during numerous international exhibitions, he was supported by the scientists of the Academy of Sciences and by the Soviet Writers' Union.
In November 1962 a number of outstanding Soviet scientists and physicists- academicians Nikolai Semyonov, Petr Kapitsa and Igor Tamm organized an exhibition of works of young scientists from their institutes. The exhibition took place in a building located on Bolshaya Kommunisticheskaya street in the Tagansky district of Moscow, and thus was called the Tagansky exhibition.
As Nina Molina recalls, «Professor Raimond Zemsky, the leader of the Polish Artists' Union and a group of art critics managed to come to the exhibition's opening on November 26, 1962. The Ministry of Culture gave permission for the attendance of the foreign journalists, and for the following morning to conduct a press conference. The story about the exhibition aired on Eurovision.
Afterwards the exhibition was shut down without any explanation. A few days later Belyutin received a proposal to completely restore the Tagansky exhibition in a specially prepared space on the second floor of Manezh exhibition center in Moscow where an exhibition dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Moscow Artists' Union had opened on November 10.
Nikita Khruschev, the First Secretary of the Communist Party's Central Committee came to see the exhibition in the Manezh. Khruschev lashed out at the «abstractionists» and «formalists», which started the massive campaign against any art that stepped outside the frame of the socialist realism paradigm. This story is on the one hand very well known, and on the other hand, a lot of speculations were built around it. Today it is believed that it was Belyutin followers' works that caused Khruschev's disapproval. However, as Nina Molina recalls, «there were no «incomprehensible» paintings on the walls» and that emotional reaction of the Chairman of the Government was aimed at the sculptures of Ernst Neizvestny who was not a member of Belyutin’s studio.
After the sharp critique of the exposition, Belyutin followers' works were taken down and prohibited for further viewing. But a little over a year later on December 31, 1963 Belyutin was invited to the New Year party in the Kremlin, where he had a brief but quite friendly conversation with Khruschev. The Soviet leader sent his kind wishes to the artist's students. In 1964 the «New Reality» studio opened in Belyutin's dacha in the village of Abramtsevo near Moscow, a place connected to the names of such outstanding Russian painters as Valentin Serov, Iliya Repin, Mikhail Nesterov, Mikhail Vrubel and Isaac Levitan.
Eliy Belyutin is also famous as the author of a number of important works on the history of the Russian art, such as «The Russian artistic school of the first half of XIX century» (1963), «The Russian artistic school of the second half of XIX century – beginning of XX century» (1967) which he wrote together with Nina Molina.