The year nineteen sixteen. On July 16, in the village of Sandat, in the Rostov region, in the house of Gavril Lyssenko, Cossack of the Don, and of his wife Arina, their first child was born.
When the priest came for the baptism, he imposed the name of Andrej on him in accordance with the ecclesiastic calendar and in honour of Rublev, the great painter of the famous Trinity,. After having prayed and wishing the newly born and his parents a long life, the priest added: "He'll become a painter".
Ever since he was a Child -the neighbours remember him taking charcoal from the stove, and using it to draw on the white walls of his home figures of animals and humans.
His father a gallant soldier and a knight of the Order of Saint George-wanted his son to become a soldier too. Since his childhood, he taught him to ride and to use a sword. And his mother, who was a fine singer and a fine painter, transferred the love for art on him and, despite the difficulty of the years following the revolution, she bought him pencils and colours.
In 1928, Andrej ends primary school and leaves his native town to enrol in the secondary school in the city of Sal'sk. The results are excellent and the drawing master starts giving him special lessons, so that in three years he was able to pass the entrance examination at the Professional Art School of Krasnodar. His drawings and water-colours were appreciated by the commission for their sense of colour and composition. Andrej the examination brilliantly and, from 1931, started studying figurative art.
The art masters, many of whom came from the Academy of Arts of Saint Petersburg, were proud of that student, endowed with a great talent. Andrej took part in the school exhibitions and would often go with his friends in the country to potray "en plein air" countrymen, young maids and the destroyed landscapes of Kuban'.
At twenty, he ends with full marks the Professional Art School and moves to Moscow.
In the thirties, in Moscow, exhibitions of works were held by famous painters such as Aristarch Lentulov, Peter Koncalovskij, Sergej Gerasimov, Igor Grabar, Boris Ioganson.
Andrej Lyssenko decides to settle in the capital and presents his works to the "Surikov" Art Institute. The director, Igor Grabar, master and member of many European Academies, without subjecting him to the entrance examination, enters him directly in the second year of the course.
Years of study and research. The precious library of the Institute, the State Museum of figurative arts "Puskin" and the Tret'jakov Gallery allowed Andrej to know the great masterpieces of art: he would spend hours and hours staring at the works by Titian, Leonardo da Vinci, Vasilij Surikov, Il'ja Repin and Sergej Ivanov.
Between 1939 and 1941, Aristarch Lentulov and Sergej Gerasimov, masters of him, encouraged him towards the composition of paintings representing people, portraits of women and Muscovite landscapes; and he was the first student to receive a scholarship from the "Repin" Institute.
In 1941, at the outbreak of the war, Andrej had a strong desire to join the army, enlisting as a volonteer but by a state decree all promising young artists are sent, with the Institute, to Samarcanda, an ancient city of Uzbekistan in Central Asia. Although with cuts and privations, the Art Institute pursues training it's students.
Andrej's works of this period represent narrow oriental roads, old mosque walls, visages of old people and children. These are paintings of silver colours and shining semitones of shadows, in contrast with bright sun beams, enlightening the flat roofs of oriental buildings or caressing people's garments.
In 1944, the Institute goes back to Moscow and begins regular lessons again. Andrej devotes himself with great care to studying. All his works painted in those years have remained at the Museum of the Institute. In one sense, this was a positive event, but on the other side-when in the fifties the offensive against formalism took rise and pictures were required to be painted to perfection- it represented a real risk, as nearly all the works were exposed to vandalism or burnt. It was only by a miracle that some works of Andrej Lyssenko were saved and are now exhibited in the Museum of Washington (Reading, The lady with the bonnet) and in the Museum of Tomsk (Woman with fur collar).
In 1947, Andrej paints for the graduation examination the work entitled The Oath. This painting, announced by Grabar as a great event for the world of art, was exhibited at the Tret'jakov Gallery and reviewed by many papers.
In 1948 Lyssenko is admitted in the Union of Russian painters. He travels around the country, collecting material and often is at work in the dacia of the Academy in Visnij Volochok, in central Russia. There, he paints many landscapes, portraits of artists and local villagers.
In 1950 he meets a beautiful green eyed girl, Margarita, who will marry him and share all her life with him. Portraits of his young wife (Lady with carpet in the background, Happy time, Young Lady with Fur, and others) are painted in these years, together with several self-portraits (Self-portrait with window in the background, now in the Tret'jakov Gallery).
1951 sees the birth of their daughter Ljuba, which the painter portrays in the works Little Ljuba, Little Rascal, The child and her doll, and other paintings, now collected in museums and private collections.
In 1953 he paints The Baby's Bath. This painting became known all around the world, and was exhibited in Paris, and is now in America.
The unforgettable stories of his father on the revolution, heard when he was a child, encourage him, at a certain point, and gives him the idea to paint compositions with traits, such as It happened, symbol of the dream of justice of the Russian people-exhibited in the hall of the Maneggio in 1967.
From 1954 to 1956, Andrej Lyssenko travels through the Virgin Lands, looking for inspiration. Here, in those years, young people, exhorted by the government, would come from every part of the country to exploit the new lands; they would plough the the steppe lands, plant wheat and found new built-up areas. Andrej Lyssenko executes many portraits of farmers, drivers of farm tractors, masons, milkmaids, drivers, and paints the endless extents of fields covered in golden wheat. Here, in these Virgin Lands, new themes are thought of and realised, and then he realized when he returned to Moscow, in works such as the Tenants, Virgin Lands, Return, The song.
The song exalts the beauty of Russian girls returning from the wheat fields, after a working day, singing thoughtless refrains. The painting is full of happy bright colours; the figures, enlightened by the sun, shine, loose hair and the creases of the dresses suggest a sense of movement and of joy.
These paintings were exhibited in the halls of Moscow, and later on, in France and America.
Between late fifties and early sixties, several exhibitions were held in Moscow . The artists used to meet in the Central House of the workers of Art, where concerts of chamber and vocal music were held or where, simply, they could sit, dine or dance together.
In the sixties, Andrej Lyssenko paints a series of works he names The Siberians , among which there are The heroine Mother, The year 1941, First victory and many studies. Besides, which he paints portraits of heroes of the second world war, landscapes of Moscow and it's surroundings, which had been a theatre of events of the recent war. These works, which see him occupied for some years until the exhibition held in celebration of the twenty-year old victory over fascist Germany, earned great success. Pictures of these works appeared in the papers "The muscovite painter", "Soviet culture" and in magazines such as "Ogonek", "Moscow", etc. Beside paintings of epic character, the painter realises also portraits, landscapes, still lives.
Often, in summer, he moves with his family to Taruse, a picturesque place already celebrated by the painter Vasilij Polenov and by the writer Konstantin Paustovskij. And Taruse strikes him with its birch grooves and its wonderful sunsets on the river Oka, that gives him the inspiration of the luxuriant landscapes of the Valley of dreams, Among the flowers, Oka... Always in Taruse, Andrej Lyssenko becomes the friend of the painter Aleksandr Vladimirovic Grigorev-first chairman of the Association of the Russian Painters (AHR)- and of his wife. On the Grigorev's veranda, seated around a samovar, the artistic intellighenzia used to gather, to paint, read poems, sing or simply to stay together. Aleksandr Vladimirovic would tell of his meetings with painters such as Il'ja Repin, Abram Archipov, Baksheev, Peter Koncalovskij, Filip Maljavin, Meskov and others. These conversations, Andrej Lyssenko, will always remember.
From 1957, Andrej started travelling by car through the Central Russia, The Baltic Countries, Kuban' and Northern Caucasus, Ukraine and Moldova. He would stop and paint, everywhere he would find new friends which he enchanted with his quick understanding, his merry character and his great ability as a narrator.
In the Muscovite Organisation of the Painters Union, Andrej Lyssenko carried out a consistent work; the painters held him in high esteem and elected him chairman of the painting section which counted more than two thousand artists. He helped many young artists of talent to obtain good ateliers where they could work, he enabled them to be guests in the dacias of the Organisation and supported the most daring works allowing their exhibition.
In the seventies, he worked on the paintings This is our strength and Do the Russians want war?, works whose expressiveness and high tension combine with a multitued of images and shades. And as always, especially in the remarkably beautiful sea-scapes, his poetic vein immerges the side that loves to celebrate the small instants of joy, in paintings as Anapa, The fisherman's Daughter, Arhipo-Osipovka, Air and Sun, sprinkling of waves, the seagulls' cry, Sunsets...
In 1973, the government bestows on Andrej Lyssenko the title of "Meritory Artist of Russia" and in that same year a monograph of his works is published.
In 1974, with a group of painters, he visits Italy for the first time. He travels all around the country, visits museums and walks through the streets of the ancient cities. His inspiration is high and when he returns to Russia, he takes with him works with beautiful landscapes: Pisa, The Coliseum, A Florentine Way, etc.
The birth of his grandchild inspires new paintings: The child ts sleeping, The young painter, Little Andrej, Little Andrej with toys.
In 1976, he goes for the first time to France. Paris, the Louvre, the streets of the Latin Quarter, the boulevard and the Seine: places he had known from childhood through the romances of Dumas, Hugo, Balzac, finally come true. In Paris, he paints, among others, the scapes Paris at night, Boulevard Saint-Germain, The Bridge of Arts.
Enriched by new impressions, the painter returns to Russia and, with renewed enthusiasm, begins working again in his Moscow atelier.
The chairman of Coca-Cola, Donald Kendel, who had seen his works during an exhibition, asks Lyssenko to portray him. For the first time, an American man posed for a Russian painter. When the work is finished, Donald Kendel would say: "I posed for many artists, American and European, but none of them were able to represent such likeness".
In fact, the portraits he realised in those years of men in the world of art, scientists, military, diplomats, are striking for their preciseness in representing the peculiar features of each model.
At the end of the seventies, Yoko Nakamura, director of a Japanese art gallery, in visit to ateliers of Russian painters in Moscow, chose several paintings for an exhibition to be held in Tokyo, and purchased a wide collection of the works of Andrej Lyssenko. The exhibition, followed in the successive years by many others, earned great success.
In 1986, Andrej Lyssenko celebrates his seventieth birthday with a one-man show held in Sal'sk. Despite his significant experience, he is always young in spirit. He continues his travels in Russia and abroad. He paints the series of landscapes called Of the Golden ring, engages on works with historical character (Waters of the Volga, Victory, Meeting Beauty) and of everyday life (Young people, Building Moscow).
In the meantime, works by Andrej Lyssenko are exhibited very often in Muscovite art exhibitions, presented in television shows and in magazines and papers.
The historical, political and social turn of Russia, between the late eighties and early nineties, opens new possibilities for the artists. Andrej Lyssenko, from 1989, travels often to France, where every year exhibitions are held.
In America, in 1987, at the Russian art exhibition, Lyssenko is present with some works such as The Oath, Lenin on the armoured car.
Between 1992 and 1996, a group of scholars of art purchase a series of canvases on behalf of the Museum of Washington .
In 1996, on the occasion of the eightieth birthday of the artist, a personal show was held in the State Exhibition Hall "Zamoskvorech'e". Every year works by Andrej Lyssenko enriche the exhibitions of Grand Hotel Balchug-Kempinski.
Paintings by Andrej Lyssenko are present today in museums and private collections in Great Britain, Holland, Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Canada and Russia.
In the latter years, the artist often lives and works in Abramzewo, where he has a mansion among birches and fir-trees. Abramzewo is a picturesque site in the surroundings of Moscow. Before the revolution, in this house of the maecenas Savva Mamontov, painters such as Il'ja Repin, Vasilij Surikov, Viktor Vasnecov, Valentin Serov, Michail Vrubel', Konstantin Korovin, used to work here. During the soviet period, a village for painters was built, where Ioganson, Grabar, Shmarinov, Prorokov, Teresenko, Lyssenko and others worked and are still working today.
In Abramzewo, in an eighteenth century estate hosts an interesting museum and an exhibition hall. The beauty of its nature, it's parks, fields and lakes appeal to the tourists. Andrej Lyssenko has portrayed every angle of this place.
In 1999, Lyssenko celebrates his eighty-third birthday; he lives in Moscow with his wife and his family. Paintings of this art book are included in the collection at the Museum of Villa San Carlo Borromeo in Senago-Milan.
1916 Andrej Gavrilovic Lyssenko was born on July, 16th, in the village of Sandat, in the District of Rostov.
1928 He ends primary school and leaves his native town to enrol in the Secondary School in the town of Sal'sk.
1931 He begins to study figurative art at the Vocational Art School of Krasnodar.
1936 He graduates with full marks at the Vocational Art School and moves to Moscow where he is admitted to the second year of study at the Art Institute "Surikov".
1941 By state decree all promising young artists of the Art Institute "Surikov" are transferred to Samarcanda.
1944 The "Surikov" Institute returns to Moscow and begins regular lessons again.
1947 Lyssenko paints his work for his graduation, entitled "The Oath".
1948 He is admitted in the Union of Russian painters.
1950 He marries Margarita.
1951 Birth of his daughter Ljuba.
1953 He paints the picture The baby's bath.
1954-1956 He travels through the Virgin Lands.
1957 He travels through Middle Russia, Baltic countries, Kuban' and Northern Caucasus, Ukraine and Moldova.
1973 The Soviet Government bestows on Andrej Lyssenko the title of "Meritory Artist of Russia".
1974 He visits Italy for the first time.
1976 He goes to France for the first time.
1987 Lyssenko is present in the United States at the Russian Art Exhibition with some of his paintings, such as The Oath, Lenin on the armoured car.
1992-1996 The Museum of Washington purchases series of his paintings.
1996 A personal show in the state hall of exhibitions "Zamoskvorech'e" is organized on the occasion of the artist's eightieth birthday.
1999 Exhibition of his paintings at the Museum of the Villa San Carlo Borromeo in Senago-Milan.
Paintings of this artist are present in the following Russian museums:
"Tret'jakov" State Gallery, Moscow; State History Museum, Moscow; Museum of the Revolution, Moscow; PVO Museum, Moscow; Museum of Figurative Arts of Krasnodar; Gallery of Sal'sk; Museum of Arts of Tomsk; Museum of Abramzewo; Museum of Arts of Samara; Museum of Arts of Brjansk.
His works are also present in museums, galleries and private collections in the following countries:
Great Britain; USA; Australia; Belgium; Germany; Holland; Italy; Ireland; Canada; Russia; France; Japan.