In 1906 David Shterenberg studied in Odessa art studios. The same year he moved to Vienna, and soon to Paris, where he studied at the School of Fine Arts, and then at the Vitti Academy under the tutorship of A. Marten, K. Van Dongen and E. Anglada. David Shterenberg lived in the colony of artists La Ruche in Paris till 1917.
His creative aspirations were close to representatives of the Paris school, such as A. Modigliani, H. Soutine and others. David Shterenberg developed his own style by 1916. After the February Revolution he returned to Russia and got involved in implementing a new cultural policy. He was assigned the commissioner for arts in Petrograd, and after moving to Moscow in 1918 he became the head of the Fine Arts Department of the People's Commissariat for Education (till 1920).
After his early moderate and avant-garde experiments the artist developed a special type of a planar still life, which was now decorative and then intensely dramatic (The Herrings, 1917 — 1918, the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow). As an official he actively supported “the left” futuristic wing, at the same time defending the enduring value of easel painting.
David Shterenberg showed himself as an expert of portrait and symbolical and generalized figurative composition, which expressed tragic breaches of time (The Old Man, 1925 — 1926; Aniska, 1926). Over the years his expressionism became more lyrical and contemplative (the painting series The Grass, 1929; a series of children's picture books 1930 — 1931; still lifes and landscapes of the 1930s — 1940s). In his paintings, engravings and xylography of those years the master became in fact one of the founders of the cloistered “quiet art” resisting to the official socialist order.
In 1925 David Shterenberg participated in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, where he headed the Russian department.
The lyrical contemplation typical of works by David Shterenberg reached special psychological power in the Biblical Scenes (1947 — 1948). Resorting to the subject of Crucifixion and related topics in this series, the artist aimed to revive the non-confessional religious fine arts in the spirit of Nikolai Ge.
David Shterenberg also worked a lot as a teacher at the Higher Art and Technical Studios and the Higher Art and Technical Institute (Vkhutemas — Vkhutein) (1920 — 1930).
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