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Football, Yuri Ivanovich Pimenov - Description of the Painting



Football - Yuri Ivanovich Pimenov. Canvas, oil. 178 x 145 cm


The picture titled the "Football" was created by Yuri Ivanovich Pimenov in the expressionist period, when he was only twenty-three-year-old student of VKHUTEMAS, back in 1926.

When one looks at this work, it is quite difficult to believe that in just a couple of decades the author of the painting became a genuine classic of social realism, as the manner of painting is so innovative. On the other hand, the topic of this painting is not that mundane, but we can say for sure that it does not belong to the abstractly sublime: the master will not change himself in this, continuing to capture simple day-to-day scenes and sketches.

The painting shows three underlined muscular figures of athletes, who are tensely pursuing a high-flying ball. They seem to be hovering above the ground, since the landscape elements look so small and insignificant against them.

The work is distinguished by the severity of the color schemes applied, as nearly everything is painted using the cold blue tones: the sky and the uniforms of the athletes represent the multifaceted shades of blue. The contours of the human figures are sharp and geometric, and the avant-garde features can easily be traced in the manner of depicting. The painting breathes dynamism, aspiration, and clarity.

Yuri Ivanovich considered his destiny to be the glorification of modernity and the ordinary course of life. One might ask, why this painting did not become a symbol of Soviet sports of that time? Regretfully, the radical style of writing employed by the master was not understood by his contemporaries, and he eventually got accused of formalism. In addition to that, the evident influence of German expressionism style led to accusations of reactionaryism and passion for bourgeois art trends.

Luckily, this did not lead to his repression, as the artist, after some creative crisis, changed his style to a softer one, which was closer to a realistic depiction, and destroyed nearly all his early works. “I really don’t like what is now called modernism,” Yuri Ivanovich used to say about his paintings written before 1931, characterizing their style from the master’s point of view.
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