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Mark Markov-Grinberg photograph of a nude female statue with an oar against a moonlit sky

Object | Accession Number: 2005.594.10

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    Brief Narrative
    Photographic print depicting a night scene of a nude female sculpture by Mark Markov-Grinberg. Markov-Grinberg was a major Social Realist photographer during the Stalinist era of the 1930s-1940s. He worked for major newspapers and journals, including TASS. He was a war correspondent during the Soviet-Finnish War from 1939-1940 and, in 1941, was drafted to fight in World War II. While a soldier, he continued his work as a photographer and army correspondent. After the war, he returned to his job at TASS.
    Artwork Title
    Statue of woman with oar in the moonlight, Park of Culture and Recreation, Moscow
    depiction:  1930
    depiction: Park of Culture and Recreation; Moscow (Russia)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Mark Reichman
    back, center, Russian script, pencil : M. Markov-Grinberg
    Artist: Mark Markov-Grinberg
    Subject: Mark Markov-Grinberg
    Mark Borisovich Markov-Grinberg was born on November 27, 1907, in Rostov-on-Don, Russia. He learned photography at secondary school. In 1925, he took his first job as a photographer for the Sovetsky Yug (Soviet South) newspaper and worked as a freelance correspondent for Ogonyok magazine. In 1926, Markov-Grinberg moved to Moscow and worked for various trade union newspapers and the magazine, Krasnoarmeyskaya Smena (Transformation). In 1930, he accepted an offer to work for the Fotokhronika TASS (Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union). He traveled around the country photographing the official Soviet Union: major construction projects, collective farms, and happy workers engaged in building Soviet Society, as well as prominent Russian and foreign personalities. His photographs appeared in major Soviet publications, including USSR in Construction, a magazine that documented Stalin’s Five-Year Plans to industrialize the Soviet Union. In 1934, TASS commissioned Markov-Grinberg to create a photo essay detailing a day in the life of Ukrainian miner, Nikita Izotov. He created an iconic portrait of Izotov as a Socialist worker hero. The Izotov photo essay launched Markov-Grinberg's career as a Stalin-era photographer and he became one of the most important photographers of his generation. His work was part of the socialist realist movement in photography which pictured life as it should be in idealized images made to look like objective recordings of things as they were.
    During the Soviet-Finnish War (1939-1940), Markov-Grinberg worked for TASS as a war correspondent and documented the fighting on the Karelian Isthmus. In September 1941, he was drafted into the Red Army, and continued to take photographs. He became the army correspondent for the military publication, Slovo Boitsa (Soldier’s World), in July 1943. He created well-known images of the Battle of Kursk and the crematorium at Stutthof concentration camp, when it was liberated on May 9, 1945, by the Soviet Army.
    Markov-Grinberg lost his job with TASS in 1948 as a result of the anti-Semitic climate of late Stalinism. After his demobilization in 1953, he worked as a photographer for the Red Army Illustrated Gazette and, later, for the photography publishing office of the Soviet Union Agricultural Exhibition, a theme park about the People’s Economy. From 1957–1973, Markov-Grinberg worked for the Club and Art Hobby magazine. He took part in photography exhibitions in the USSR and abroad. An honorary member of the Russian Union of Art Photographers, Markov-Grinberg died in 2006 at the age of 99.

    Physical Details

    Physical Description
    Black and white gelatin silver photographic print depicting a large statue of an unclothed woman holding a paddle. The massive figure is positioned on a square base in the center of a fountain, her contrapposto stance conveying a sense of movement and presence. The angle of the photograph elevates the statue close to the roofline of the building behind. From the bottom left, an intense artificial light source illuminates the front of the statue; additional light sources are on the right. To the right of her head, clouds partially obscure a bright, full moon. The photographer’s use of artificial light contrasts sharply with the shadowed background and dark sky, creating a dramatic night scene. Inscribed on the reverse are the artist’s signature, the year, and the title.
    overall: Height: 23.500 inches (59.69 cm) | Width: 20.000 inches (50.8 cm)
    overall : gelatin silver print, graphite
    back, center, Russian script, pencil : 1930 [Symbol]
    back, top left corner, pencil : 3 (encircled)
    back, top right corner, pencil : MMG-03
    back, bottom left corner, pencil : 3500/0.5

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    No restrictions on access
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    The photograph was donated to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in 2005 by Dr. Mark Reichman.
    Record last modified:
    2023-09-15 10:14:05
    This page:

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