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Konstantinovich Kostandi

Ukraine • 1852−1921

Biography and information

Kyriak Konstantinovich Kostandi (October 3, 1852, Dofinovka village, Kherson province - October 31, 1921, Odessa) - Ukrainian and Russian artist of Greek origin, an outstanding teacher, one of the founders of the Association of South Russian Artists (TYURH), director of the Odessa Art Museum (since 1917).

Features creativity Kiriak Kostandi: A graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts (and later an academician - 1907), Kyriak Kostandi was an adherent of realism, bringing impressionist notes into it. He paid a lot of attention to the play of light and color contrasts. The artist did not like to paint large canvases, all his paintings are small in size. One of the main themes of his paintings was the landscapes of the environs of Odessa, which the artist himself portrayed masterfully and instilled a love of nature to his students. Kostandi beautifully painted portraits, which he left a lot. He was considered one of the strongest Ukrainian colorists who lived and worked at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.
As painter Boris Egiz writes in his memoirs, Kostandi was one of the first true artists of the pleinalers, who “with great magnificence was able to give vibrant light brightness and a wonderful game of reflexes in the shadows, arousing unproven visual artistic in Russia before that time emotions.

Famous paintings by Kiriak Kostandi: "Lilac", "At the sick comrade", "In the people", "Late Twilight."

Childhood and youth
Kyriak Kostandi was born in a small village Dofinovka on the Black Sea, near Odessa. His father, Konstantin Kostantidi Vasilketi, moved here from the Greek island of Santorini. As a fisherman, he married his wife, the daughter of a Greek fisherman, Photinu, the philologist. The family was large; Kyriac became the sixth child of nine. It was difficult for Vasilketi, but amicably, the soul of the family was a good and hard-working mother.

When Kyriakou was 9 years old, his father died, and the older children were forced to look for a job to help their mother and younger ones. The future artist worked first in an Odessa grocery store, after which he worked in a wine cellar and a tavern. Kyriakus loved to paint since childhood; he painted on fences and walls with charcoal and chalk. "What, in fact, served as the impetus for painting, I definitely do not dare to say," Kiriak Konstantinovich once remarked, "but I think that those popular prints that my parents loved to decorate the walls with gave the first impetus and aroused interest in images."

Once his drawings were seen by Odessa photographer Bullov. He invited the boy to work in his studio retouching, where Kyriak worked for two years. Only at age 18 Kostandi began his artistic education - he entered the Sunday School of the Odessa Society of Fine Arts. Three years later, in 1873, Kostandi received a silver medal at the final exams. The young artist dreamed of the Academy of Arts, but there was no funds for the trip.

Study at the Academy of Arts
Fate smiled on Kostandi. This is how the artist himself described the events that determined his future life: “Traveling through Odessa, I stayed with my daughter Olga Latri, Ivan Constantinovich Aivazovski. Through the kindest Bertrani, the owner of the foundry, and the Greek consul I.Yu. Vutchina, I was introduced to Aivazovsky, who approvingly commented on my work, which influenced I.Yu. Vutchina, who provided me with initial material support. Aivazovsky wrote a letter addressed to the conference secretary of the Academy of Fine Arts PF. Isaeva, in which he asked the latter to pay attention to the “works” of a young man ... from the Odessa Greeks, Kirilo Kostandi, who has great abilities. ”

Having successfully passed the entrance exams, Kostandi entered the Academy of Arts in 1874, but only as a volunteer - he did not have a secondary education. Despite the difficult living conditions, he painted custom portraits and gave drawing lessons that helped make ends meet. Kyriak Kostandi was a diligent student: he visited the Hermitage, where he copied Rubens and TitianHe often visited the Kushelev Gallery and spent a long time looking at the works of French painters.

In 1876, he received two small silver medals. Full student of the Academy Kostandi became only in 1877, when he passed the full gymnasium course and painting course. His master was a master of historical and portrait painting. Pavel Petrovich Chistyakov. A supporter of an individual work plan for each student, Chistyakov despised patterns of official classicism and was listed as a “free-thinker” at the Academy. “He was a mediator between nature and a student, without imposing anything, and everyone who apprehended his eyes felt solid ground under their feet” (V.Vasnetsov). Kostandi was very fond of his teacher and corresponded with him for many years.

In 1881, Kostandi accepted Russian citizenship by applying to the board of the Academy with a request for a corresponding petition.
Feeling a taste for teaching and being a visionary person, Kyriak Kostandi enrolled in training courses for art teachers at secondary schools that worked at the Academy of Arts. He finished them in 1881; in the same year he received his second Grand silver medal. Dreaming about a pensioner's trip to Europe, Kostandi was counting on a gold medal that gave such a right. However, the Academy commission did not accept his sketch, submitted for approval of the topic of competitive work.

Life in St. Petersburg
Kyriak Kostandi graduated from the Academy of Arts in the fall of 1882, receiving the title of class artist of the third degree, and remained in St. Petersburg. Two years later, at the 12th exposition of the Association of Traveling Art Exhibitions, he presented the painting "At a Sick Comrade." Critics reacted favorably to the artist, and the painting on the recommendation Ilya Repin purchased for his gallery Pavel Tretyakov. A year later, Kostandi presented to the public two more of his genre works - “Farewell” and “People”. For the summer, the artist went on sketches to the Pskov and Novgorod provinces. From these studies that captured the nature of the Russian North, were subsequently born the painting “Date. Northern motive ", "Good Thursday (In the North)", "Haystacks", "Before the storm".

Return to Odessa
Cold Petersburg and academic routine oppressed the artist; He is returning home, in Odessa. In the winter of 1885, Kostandi became a senior teacher at the Odessa Fine Arts School at the Society of Fine Arts. An excellent teacher, a sensitive artist, an erudite and modest person, Kostandi quickly became a popular teacher and an equally popular painter who was loved by Odessans. Bringing traditions and artistic methods of realism into his classes, Kostandi created the “sharply distinctive face” of the Odessa drawing school. Prior to his arrival, academicism prevailed here, introduced by teachers from the Munich and Milan Academies of Arts, the lack of a system flourished and rudeness in dealing with students was considered the norm.

Start teaching
Intelligent, erudite and benevolent, Kostandi together with a young watercolor artist Gennady Ladyzhensky He became a herald of new times and managed to develop his own set of exercises and skills based on new training programs. “Kostandi happily combined the patience of the teacher, the mind of the educator and the talent of a true painter. At the same time, the person in it “complemented the artist, the artist decorated the person, and the teacher transferred the properties of the one and the other to his students” (A. Schister).

The artist taught his students drawing and painting, communicated with them calmly, and he strove to ensure that the students mastered their craft to perfection. Very little time passed, and in 1890, in a letter to the famous critic Vladimir Stasov, Ilya Repin wrote: “In Odessa, in the school of drawing, K. Kostandi leads his class unusually well - the results are excellent!” Art school leaders from other Russian cities wrote Odessa art school and personally Kostandi with requests to send several of the best drawings in order to use them in teaching young artists. Kostandi’s teacher at the Academy of Arts, Pavel Chistyakov noted: “Kostandi, judging by his students who come to the Academy, teaches them to talk with nature, reveals the secret of its charm and subtly interprets its essence.”

Trips to Europe
In 1887, Kostandi’s dream came true: the artist finally leaves the country. In the company of his colleagues in the Odessa Drawing School, Kuznetsov brothers, he visited France, Italy, Germany and Austria. Acquaintance with the works of the Impressionists and Barbizon people pushed Kostandi to a new vision of the surrounding nature of the hot south, the essence of its color. Upon his return, he presented his paintings “The Girl with the Geese” and “The Patient at the Dacha” at the next exhibition of the artists of the Wanderers, the main character of which, according to many, was the sunlight.

Another trip took place in the spring of 1894; Kyriak Kostandi traveled with artists Evgenia Bukovetskogo and Petra Nilus. France, Austria and Germany struck artists - this time with a crisis of realism. “... The plots of French paintings were greatly crushed ...” Nilus wrote after the journey. - Artists as if they do not want to know about the content in the pictures ... True healthy feeling is forgotten; instead, his artists give sick fantasies, rave about monstrous images, babble in the language of children ... ”

Association of South Russian Artists
In 1890, with the active participation of Kostandi, a group of Odessa artists, inspired by the example of the Wanderers, organized the Association of South Russian Artists (TYURH), which existed until 1920. Every year in October, the Partnership arranged exhibitions in which artists from all over Ukraine took part. Among members TYuRH were such celebrities, as Ivan Aivazovsky, Valentin Serov, Evgeny Lancere, Osip Braz, Leonid Pasternak, Alexander Golovin. For the first time, Kyriak Kostandi became the chairman of the TYuRH in 1902 and headed the society until 1920.

The artist worked a lot and fruitfully. In the same 1890, Kostandi painted a picture "Early spring"which was subsequently awarded a diploma and the Grand Bronze Medal at the Paris World Exhibition in 1900.

In 1899, Kostandi received the title of professor and the position of head of easel painting workshop. At the same time, the Odessa Drawing School was renamed the Art School of the Society of Fine Arts in Odessa, which became subordinate to the Academy of Arts.

Artist's family
In 1889, Kyriak Kostandi married Euphrosyne Kuzminichna Knyazeva (1863 - 1947). A year later, he painted her portrait, which was presented at the First Exhibition of the Association of South Russian Artists in Odessa. And the first portrait of his future wife, Kostandi, was written in 1885, when they first met.

In 1890, the couple Kostandi had a daughter, Anna, the first of nine children. Sons Pavel (1892) and Andrei (1893), daughters Elena (1895), Maria (1896), Love (1897) and Seraphim (1900) appeared next. In 1901, the youngest son Michael was born. Another child died in infancy.

Odessa Art School of the Society of Fine Arts
For thirty-five years, Kyriak Kostandi led a field class. A talented, sensitive and principled teacher, he educated dozens of artists, including famous painters Peter Nilus, Mitrofan Grekov, Isaac Brodsky, Alexey Shovkunenko, Stepan Kolesnikov. After the October Revolution, Kostandi worked as an expert at the Odessa Commission for the Protection of Ancient Monuments, participated in the reorganization of the Museum of Fine Arts, and from 1917 headed the Odessa City Museum. The works of Kiriak Kostandi are in museums of Odessa, Kiev, Moscow, St. Petersburg.

Kiriak Konstantinovich Kostandi was not on October 31, 1921. His students, friends and colleagues honored his memory by organizing the KK Kostandi Society a year later, which existed until 1930. Today, his name is born in Odessa Children's Art School № 1 named after. K.K. Kostandi.

Author: Rita Lozinskaya