Vera Mikhina was a prominent Russian sculptor, most famous for her monument "The Worker and Collective Farm Girl," (Rabochy i Kolhoznitsa) topped the Soviet pavilion at the World Exhibition in Paris in 1937. This sculpture is still one of the major sculptures shaping the Moscow city landscape.
Vera Ignatievna Mukhina was born in Riga in 1889 into a merchant's family. Her father encouraged her drawing lessons. When he died Vera was 14 (her mother died much earlier), so she spend her youth under the custody of her Kursk relatives.
After finishing classical school she moved to Moscow where she studied in the studio of the famous landscape painter K. Yuon (1909-11), and later shifted to the less academical I. Mashkov(1911-12). Vera Mukhina completed her education in Paris where she attended the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and took lessons from Emile-Antoine Bourdelle, then continued on to Italy to explore the art and sculptures of the Renaissance period. She later assumed that those classed became her basis education.
After returning to Moscow following the outbreak of World War I, Mukhina worked for a time as scenographic assistant to Alexandra Exter in the Kamerny Theatre of Aleksandr Tairov (1885-1950). She aslo worked as a nurse in a millitary hospoital during the Civil ward in Russia. In 1917 Vera Mukhuina met her future husband, Alexei Zamkov, a military surgeon. A year later they got married.
Zamkov became her favourute model, a devoted husband and a loyal partner. Her early works were influenced by cubism. After the October Revolution of 1917 Muhina participated in the implementation of Lenin's plan of monumental propaganda and in the 1920s she rose to become one of the Soviet Union's most prominent sculptors, and became a leading figure of Socialist realism, both in style and ideology. Muhina's creative drive and fiery temperament, her inclination to mighty dynamism and love for massive and strong, yet not stagnant forms as well as assimilation of many artistic concepts made her the bright figure of Russian realist art.
The main result of her creative searches became the - 24-meter band "Worker and Collective Farm Girl", that was first exhibited on top of the Soviet Pavilion at the Paris World's Fair in 1937. This work made Vera Muknina internationally famous. It was the world's first welded sculpture. The 24-meter-tall, 75-ton monument was made of plate of stainless steel on a wooden frame, the plates connected by an innovative method of spot welding. One hand of each figure holds respectively a hammer and a sickle, the two implements joining to form the hammer and sickle symbol of the Soviet Union. In 1947 the sculpture, now on permanent display at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, became the logo of the Russian Mosfilm studio. It was renovated and re-installed on a higher pedestal in 2009. The artist worked in chamber genres as well: in the 1940s she was into art glass, along with vases and cups creating glass portraits.
Some of her other works include: "Peasant Woman", freestanding bronze, now at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, Maxim Gorky Monument in Nizhny Novgorod, the statue of Tchaikovsky in front of the Moscow Conservatory and others.
From 1941 to 1952 Mukhina won the Stalin Prize five times, was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1943. She died 1953 at the age of 64 and buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery.
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