Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nicolai Fechin; The Art and The Life

I only knew a little bit about Fechin, but now, thanks to this latest, massive, collection of his lifes work, its safe to say I now know a lot more.
Born to a woodworker and gilder in 1881, and later a student of the Russian master painter; Illya Repin, Nicolai Fechin is one of the most well known of Russian artists, achieving the highest grade possible at the legendary Imperial Academy of Art in Saint Petersburg. 
In 1923 Fechin and his family emigrated to the United States where he took up teaching and found quite a bit of success as a portrait painter. Unfortunately in 1927 Fechin contracted Tuberculosis and he moved west to Taos New Mexico where he actually produced some of his most well known recent works, notably of Native American Indians and south western landscapes. Even more remarkable was his continuation of woodworking and the designing of a adobe brick home and studio in Taos which remains a museum today. All post ends and exposed wood beams, furniture and architectural details were all painstakingly carved in the style of his homeland (which oddly works perfectly with the southwestern adobe building style) and it just seems like the most wonderful place. A real artist that guy! This book details much of his house in Taos as well as his paintings, watercolors, sketches, playbills, wood sculptures and a handful of notable works, many with close up details of his brush and edge work which he is extremely well known for. Along with an amazing amount of his art are an enormous quantity of family and historical photos- I usually am more attracted to the art in books such as this, but I actually spent a lot of time engrossed with the family photos. So many great characters and outfits!
This book is authored by Galina Tuluzakova, a well known expert on Fechin and Russian art. Ms Tuluzakova was give unprecedented access to many unpublished family photo albums and family collection of his work- although I have never seen any of these paintings in the flesh, I was a little disappointed that color isn't as vibrant as I suspect it really is, but ones things for certain is that the photos are extremely clear and accurate in showing the texture of paint and brush strokes. Very very clear, large plates fill this book (427 of them apparently), and generally I really am happy to own it. I bought it from Fechin Art Reproductions and they clearly took the time to properly pack this volume particularly well, which I REALLY appreciate. Always the worst to get a book from Amazon with a slightly smooshed hardcover corner- this book came in perfect condition and I actually hesitated before unwrapping the shrink wrap it was so gorgeous looking product wise. These books can go out of print fast and their price skyrocket into the realms that I can hardly reach. If you know of Fechin you will agree at how rare any decent books of him are, and if you're not familiar with his work I can guarantee you won't find a better one for the price, which is pretty steep at $125.
In the meantime, please enjoy a handful of pictures that stood out to me, but be assured there are plenty more in this volume.

Nicolai Fechin: The Art and The Life
Galina Tuluzakova
Fechin Art Reproductions (2012)
462 pages (HC)
ISBN 0-9674194-4-1
9.5 x 11.1 x 1.5


Allan Norico said...

such a great review! thanks man:)

en_b said...

Thanks Alan.
Yeah was frothing over this book.
Was just at San Diego con and looked at a bunch of Fechin books and the plates in this recent one are definitely the best of them all so far.

JC said...

oh, love Fechin...glad to see you do a proper tribute old friend. hope you are well. its' been crazy busy and i've done a poor job keeping up and checking blogs. but promise to do better. cheers,