Kozintseva Lyubov Mikhailovna

Lyubov Kozintseva Heritage

For many years the name of Lyubov Kozintseva had been overshadowed in the Russian art by her famous brother Grigory Kozintsev, the world-known film-maker, and her husband Ilya Ehrenburg, the famous author. Being a professional artist, Lyubov Kozintseva's work failed to find a niche of its own in the history of the Soviet art, the 1920s being known as the peak of her artistic career. In the following years her lyric talent was destined to flourish only in the "family circle" finding admirers among close friends.

Lyubov Kozintseva (born Kiev, 1900 – died Moscow, 1970) studied art at the Alexandra Ekster private studio in Kiev in 1918 – 1919. That studio, known at the time as the Workshop of the Decorative Arts, was the place where young talents used to congregate. Later, many of them were to become important figures in the Russian cultural circles. Among Alexandra Ekster's students there were Alexander Tyshler and Nadezhda Mandelshtam. The company was frequented by Viktor Shklovsky, Osip Mandelshtam and Ilya Ehrenburg.

The 1920s was to become the "golden decade" for Lyubov Kozintseva, when together with her husband she would travel a lot meeting many famous people and artists, Pablo Picasso among others. She would exhibit her works at numerous art shows travelling all over Europe: Berlin in 1921 – 1922; Prague, Brno, Hannover, Antverpen in 1923 and Paris in 1926 – 1927. Unfortunately, her works of those years were practically all lost and one can judge of her talent in that avant-garde period by nothing but the memories of the contemporaries.

The 1930s – 40s saw a serious change in the painterly manner of Lyubov Kozintseva: she produced mostly graphic works illustrating books. The following years, when she either stayed in Paris or lived in Moscow, both drawings and oil paintings appeared from her brush acquiring a markedly intimate character meant for the eyes of a close circle of friends.

The Private Collection Unit of the Museum of Fine Arts possesses about ninety of her oil paintings and drawings which were donated by her daughter Valentina Kozintseva. The most interesting, because they are rare, are the paintings: chiefly still-lifes but also two portraits – a portrait of her mother and another one of Iosif Puterman, a friend of the Ehrenburgs. Both portraits were painted in oil on fine-grained canvas and cardboard and date back to the period of the mid-1930s – 40s. Besides, the Kozintseva collection includes some gouaches taken from life in the south of France, a few sketches for book illustrations and two albums of other sketches.

This collection is sure to complete the collection of works of art and documents associated with the Ehrenburg family, for the Graphic Art Unit of the Museum has about three dozens of European graphic works which used to belong to the Ehrenburg family while the Manuscript Unit is in possession of part of Ilya Ehrenburg's archives including photographs taken by the author himself.

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