Chaim Livchitz

The life of chaim Livchitz spanned one of the most vibrant periods in art history. Born in Vitebsk, Russia (now Belarus) in 1912, his art education started under the tutelage of Marc Chagall, In 1927 Chaim Livchitz entered the Vitebsk Art College which had become famous through its close association with Chagall, Kazimir Malevich, and El Lisitsky. After his graduation from Vitebsk Art College in 1930, Livchitz moved to Leningrad where he became a student at the prestigious Academy of Fine Arts. In Leningrad he studied under such prominent Soviet Painters as Isaak Brodsky and Boris loganson and was also part of the student group associated with Pavel Filonov, one of the leading figures of the Russian Avant-Garde. Livchitz graduated from the Academy in 1938 as one of its best students.

Following WWII he settled in Minsk where he was soon invited to teach at the University of Art and Theater. Over the next 30 years, Chaim Livchitz participated in numerous regional and national exhibitions, helped raise a generation of students, and completed multiple commissions for the Belarusian National Art Museum and Art Trust. In 1991 Livchitz immigrated to Chicago, where he finished his last major painting Prayer in Minsk six months prior to his death on September 4, 1994.

While he remained a characteristic representative of the Soviet Realist school, Livchitz drew profoundly on the legacy of the old masters. In addition, Livchitz's works provide a vivid example of continuity between the tradition of the Russian avant-garde and the later school of Soviet painting. His compelling compositional arrangements in studies for The Prayer in Minsk echo the influence of Chagall and Still Life with Onions subtly integrates a suprematist interplay of geometric forms. Livchitz's paintings are also examples of rigorous craftsmanship. In this respect, he always remained a follower of Filonov, whose doctrine of "made" paintings demanded a continuous and thorough rendition of artistic work. Throughout his life as an artist Livchitz insisted that his brand of realism was not a passive representation of life; rather, it sought to actively engage the subject while interpreting its inner and outer principles.