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October in Belorussia (Original Painting)
1927. Fine. October in Belorussia - Original Painting capturing the Pogroms and the urgency of Jewish migration& & AKSELROD, Meer. October in Belorussia. 1927. Original watercolor, gouache and pencil on paper. Image measures 12 inches x 19 inches; framed 24 inches x 30 inches. Initialed on the front by the artist and signed on the verso with an additional pencil sketch of a nude. Excellent condition. Elegantly framed. & & ONE OF THE MOST DISTINGUISHED MODERN RUSSIAN JEWISH ARTISTS, Meer Akselrod (1902-1970) was born in Molodechno, a small “shtetl” in Belorussia not far from Vitebsk, the native town of Marc Chagall. Like Chagall the images of his Jewish village upbringing have served as inspiration for much of his work. The years immediately following the Russian Revolution were a golden age for the arts in that nation. Painting, literature, music and theatre were all supported and encouraged. Meer Akselrod (known as Mark to his friends) benefited greatly from this artistic spring. Unfortunately by the 1930’s the avant-garde was no longer favored and artists were forced to conform to the dictates of Socialist Reform or leave the country as did Chagall and Kandinsky. Akselrod went underground instead and began to paint more realistic imagery. His Jewish content made him always a figure of controversy with the communist regime. & & ILLUMINATING HIS NATIVE SHTETL. At the time of this painting the artist was in his mid-twenties and it is one of a series that he completed over the course of several years that illuminated his native “shtetl”. Belorussia had long been a target of murderous pogroms as the Jews there, always subject to economic polarization, ethnic inequality and religious intolerance, were understandably receptive to revolutionary ideas. The early “October” massacres of the 20th century (1903-05) were never to be forgotten. This painting portrays a crowded street scene of frantic villagers pushing carts, carrying children and large sacks of belongings and food. There is a fervent sense of movement. They are rushing to leave, to escape. In the background is what appears to be a soldier on horseback rounding up an indistinct group of villagers. A horrible sense of irony accompanies this image from the hindsight of the 21st century for in 1943 over 16,000 Jews were killed in Belorussia.& & The illustrated biographical book Meer Akselrod by Elena Akselrod: Jerusalem, 1993. contains this reference on page 32: “… as a student in the faculty of the graphic arts, Akselrod chose gouache and tempera as the media for his diploma work. Akselrod’s diploma work was studies for large-scale murals on the theme October in Belorussia. These many-figured compositions were to depict the capture of factories and estates, political meetings and so forth. In 1935 Akselrod was commissioned to do murals for Government House in Minsk. Using his gouaches of 1927 as a starting point, the artist did a series of new studies. This work was never completed, though Akselrod did paint the canvas, The Capture of the Estate.” Plate 36 reproduced in this book, White Poles in Minsk [1927] is from this same series.& & PROVENANCE: An inscription, signed R.[Rivka] Rubina, (the artist’s wife and an important Yiddish author in Russia) is placed near the nude sketch on the verso of the painting. It states that this piece was given as a gift to Ella Minukhin. After Minukhin’s death it reverted to Elena Akselrod, his daughter, from whom this work was purchased.
      [Bookseller: Historicana]
Last Found On: 2013-07-26           Check availability:      Biblio    

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