The death of the commissioner - Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin. 196x248
Painting "Death of the Commissioner" occupies a central place in the Soviet period of the work of Petrov-Vodkin. Its creation was preceded by such a significant work of the artist as “After the Battle” (1923). One of the main topics for Petrov-Vodkin, life, sacrifice and death was solved here for the first time in the images of the heroes of the revolution.
The most profound embodiment of this topic is given in the work "The Death of the Commissar." The plot of the picture is based on one of the episodes of the fierce battles of the civil war. A mortally wounded commissar falls, his heavier body is supported by a Red Army soldier, a detachment of fighters continues to move forward. However, in accordance with the concept developed by the artist, the scene depicted outgrows the scope of the fact, rising to a philosophical, symbolic sound.
In this work, the author’s artistic system, its original understanding of the picturesque space and coloristic structure, find their full expression. Focusing on the main group, this close-up, the master opens a significant spatial depth in the picture with distant villages, flowing silhouettes of hills, with a blue ribbon of the river. As if through the eyes of a dying commissar, this world was seen, huge as a planet, and at the same time, close and tangible, acutely dynamic and frozen. Petrov-Vodkin rejects the traditional linear perspective. The artist moves compositional points of view in strict sequence, as it were, on the surface of the sphere, which gives him the greatest completeness of coverage. This technique of spherical perspective plays the role of an artistic metaphor that expresses the author’s philosophical position in poetic form. The depicted event acquires a cosmic universal sound. Here is the key to understanding the idea of the picture - the instant of death of the commissar reveals the meaning of his life, the meaning of his heroic sacrifice, affirming the revolution.
For all the versatility of compositional construction, the picture is perceived as a plastic whole. This is largely facilitated by the accurately found relationships of the silhouette outlines of the central group, detachment and landscape details, and the unity of the rhythmic organization.
A significant role in the imaginative decision is played by the color of the picture. All painting is sustained in a harmonious combination of bluish-green and ocher tones. The color of the picture emphasizes the depth of space, emphasizes the main plans and groups, helps to feel the lightness and transparency of the bluish haze, materiality, weight of objects and figures. A tense, dramatic chord sounds black in combination with red in the figure of the commissar. The balance of the main color planes determines the integrity and decorativeness of the canvas. With the solemn beauty of the coloristic system, the artist affirms the moral beauty of the heroes, their feat.
This work summed up the many picturesque and philosophical quests of Petrov-Vodkin. In addition, it became one of the landmark works of Soviet art.
The dramatic work “The Death of the Commissar”, completed in 1928, clearly demonstrates to the viewer another thematic side of Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin’s work - sacrifice, death and heroism on the verge of death, and all this is displayed truthfully and honestly, without unnecessary pathos. The painting was dedicated to a patriotic date - the 10th anniversary of the Red Army (workers 'and peasants' Red Army).
On the canvas we see a battle. The cracked land of the hills, which is a mixture of clay, sand, stones, pitted with ravines, serves as an eloquent decoration of the action taking place in the foreground. And here, in front of the spectator himself, the commissar of the detachment, seriously wounded in battle, dies. The dying commander is supported by the Red Army soldier, while the rest run further into battle, although some look back, trying to understand what happened to their commissar, who had just boldly led them into battle.
It is striking that the entire exposition is devoid of any pathos - just soldiers are running, a man quietly dying away on the battlefield. And no last parting words and speeches. Even a soldier looks very simple and calm - no grief, no moaning, no anger. So everything happens in battle, and all this superficial pathetics is far from cruel realities, the painter tells us.
You can not pay attention to the color of the canvas: a seemingly realistic plot is sustained in a harmonious fantastic combination of blue, ocher and green tones - such an unusual color interpretation is one of the hallmarks of the artist's artistic style.
The painting “The Death of the Commissar” was the most important and bright work of the last period of Petrov-Vodkin’s work. It is known that the master began work on it back in 1927, at the same time the first pencil sketch appeared. A whole year was spent on the search for a hero, compositional solutions and the embodiment of everything conceived on the canvas. As a result, the world saw a picture that impresses with its deep drama and utmost honesty.