Alexei Kusnetsov was born in 1916 in the city of Orenburg, Russia into a family of printers. After
completing seven years of school, Kusnetsov worked as a mechanic in a factory. Already at this time he began panting and drawing and showing his work in competitions for gifted youth in Leningrad.
In 1932 Alexei was accepted to the Penza Art College. He instructors were the famous artists N. Petrov and Gorjushkin-Sorokopudov. After graduating from the college in 1936, he was accepted to the Russian Academy of Art, where he continued studying under N. Petrov.
The war interrupted Alexei’s art education. Until the end of 1942, he was in the active army. In 1943 he was discharged in order to return to his studies at the Academy of Art which had been evacuated to Samarkand, Uzbekistan. This period is represented in his work “Uzbek Girl.”
In 1946 Alexei graduated from the Academy of Art where he trained in the studio of Professor A. Osmerkin. He received the official title of Painter for his thesis painting entitled “The Journey of Life” which now hangs in The Leningrad Museum of History.
In 1947 Alexei began his teaching career at the Art High School which was part of the Leningrad Academy of Art. Beginning in 1948 he worked in the art studio of Professor B. Ioganson.
Alexej completed his studio work in 1951 with the painting “Stalin in an Underground Printing House”
which was shown in the National Exhibit in Moscow and was bought for the traveling exhibit fund of the USSR.
Between 1952 and 1956, Alexei produced the paintings “Workers Revolutionary Groups of Russia” and “Lenin on the Second Party Congress” which now hang in museums of Moscow.
Kusnetsov’s creative journey was tightly interlaced with his pedagogical career. In 1952 he became the director of the Art High School which was part of the Academy of Art.
Alexej Kusnetsov, a student of the Russian school of realism, influenced an entire generation of painters who left a rich legacy in the history of Russian arts.
Due to his great experience as an educator and artist, the Ministry of the Arts of the USSR sent A. Kusnetsov to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1960. His goal was to organize a national art school and to establish a program in the realist school of painting at the Hanoi Art Institute.
Alexei’s time in Vietnam was very fruitful – he resolved complex educational tasks and continued his
creative work. During this period, he produced several great portraits of women such as “Girl Tkhan,”
“Portrait of Tkhan,” “Portrait of Uan” and others. In two years Alexej created over seventy paintings and many drawings which were shown in personal exhibits in Hanoi (1960-1962) and then in Leningrad in 1963. Some of his pieces remain in museums in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Upon returning from Vietnam, Kusnetsov continued his art and pedagogical work. Between 1962 and 1964, he worked on the painting “Great Pochin” which was commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of Russia.
In 1968 he was conferred the prestigious title of Honorable Painter of Russia.
At this time, Kusnetsov oversaw the construction of a new building for the Art High School. The school moved to the new building in 1971 and in 1973 it was renamed The B. Ioganson’s School after the great painter and pedagogue.
The endeavors of Kusnetsov are an example of noble service to mankind and society. He dedicated 45 years of his life to the cultivation of a new generation of artists. His name has been entered into the history of Russian art as an educator and artist.
The last years of the artist’s life were highly influenced by the nature of Central Russia. Portraits and landscapes of this period (“Portrait of a Daughter” (illustration), “Portrait of a Wife,” “Gloomy Day,” “Apple Trees” and others) are lyrical and have a depth of meaning.
In his last work, “Self Portrait,” Alexei’s use of lightning achieves a particularly dramatic effect.
The creative achievements of Alexei Kusnetsov and other artists brought international attention to