Nikolai Ivanovich Feshin (November 26 December 8 1881, Kazan – October 5, 1955, Santa Monica, California) – Russian and American artist. Painter, graphic artist, sculptor, carver, representative of Impressionism and Art Nouveau. Nicolai Ivanovich Fechin was known for his portraits and works featuring Native Americans.
Feshin was well known in Russia and the USSR, in the US it is considered a national American painter. He created more than 2000 works that are in the collections of more than 30 museums in the US, not counting private collections. The largest collection of works by Nikolai Feshin in Russia is in the Museum of Fine Arts of Tatarstan (Art Gallery “Hazin” in the Kazan Kremlin). His work is also represented in the museums of St. Petersburg, Cheboksary, Kozmodemyansk, Kirov, in private collections.
Nikolai Ivanovich Feshin was born in Kazan on November 26, 1881 (in the old style) in the family of the carver of the iconostasis Ivan Aleksandrovich Feshin, the owner of his own workshop. His father was from Arzamas, his relatives came from the village of Pushkarka, founded by the rebel gunners exiled from Moscow back in the 16th century. Mother – Praskovya Viktorovna Chistova, came from Kostroma. Workshop of Ivan Feshin in those years was awarded silver awards of local scientific and industrial exhibitions “for high quality of works and a variety of drawings”.
At the age of four, Nikolai fell ill with meningitis and spent two weeks in a coma. According to the family legend, quoted by Feshin in the Autobiography, doctors advised parents to pray for a miracle; Father, well known among the clergy, agreed to bring home from the Annunciation Cathedral a miraculous Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God. Nicholas after that went on the mend, but the illness made the boy closed and lonely. Developing from an early age talent draftsman, he was completely focused on art.
The first experiments of Nikolai Feshin’s independent work are traced from the age of six, the album of ornaments of that time was preserved. From the age of 9 Nikolai began to work in his father’s workshop, taking part in the execution of orders. The talent of the boy was noticed by the first director of the Kazan art school NN Belkovich – the future father-in-law of the artist.
IA Feshin did not possess an entrepreneurial vein and, despite his fame, went bankrupt, he had to pay all his property for debts. He began to go to the villages to work, the family remained in the city, experiencing great need. Nevertheless, the son was able to get primary education in a public school. Nicholas Feshin himself recalled that the first earnings he brought a drawing of the iconostasis, made at the age of 13, this money (10 rubles) was sewn a school suit.
In 1895 an art school opened in Kazan, in the first set of which Feshin also got. This was the insistence of his father, who wanted his son to become an artist. By that time the family had broken up: Praskovya Feshina, exhausted by need, went to her parents in Kostroma, Ivan Feshin also left Kazan and was unable to help his son. Despite this, until the end of his life, his father was for Nicholas the highest authority. 14-year-old Nikolai Feshin was left alone in Kazan, starving to death and not having a permanent earning, some help was provided to him by his father’s uncle, who owned a turpentine plant in the village of Kushnia 100 versts from Kazan. Hence Feshin’s interest in the life and everyday life of the Mari who inhabited these places was due. Most of his time, Feshin spent in school, in Kazan, his pupil oil paintings, in particular, “Temptation” on the Gospel story, were preserved.
In 1900, Feshin graduated from the Kazan Art School and went to St. Petersburg to enter the Imperial Academy of Arts, according to the results of the entrance tests being the second. Among his fellow students were B. Anisfeld, I. Brodsky, D. Burliuk, A. Savinov and many others. In the first two years of training, his studies were directed by RK Zaleman and P. E. Myasoedov. Academic academic drawings Feshin did not survive.
NI Feshin did not pay tuition fees in the Academy on poverty and ate in the free canteen. Livelihoods gave him sketches for posters, programs for balls and masquerades, and even invitations, for the production of which a competition was announced. Decorative works of NI Feshin in a figurative system belonged to the modern. According to recollections, since 1902 he collaborated with the magazines “The Jester” and “Volnitsa” as an illustrator, but the earliest of the surviving drawings – cartoons from the people’s life with humorous signatures – refer to 1904. This is a printed reproduction, the originals are lost.
In 1903 Feshin entered the workshop of IE Repin – the most numerous in the Academy and the most popular among students (it consisted of up to 70 people). An educational sketch of the first year of training at Repin – “Exit from the Catacombs after Praying” – was marked by the Council of the Academy, the artist was awarded the first prize. This sketch had to answer, among other things, a number of formal rules, in particular, demonstrate the ability to transfer three-dimensional space on the plane of the canvas using the laws of linear and aerial perspective, and so on.
During the training at the Academy, Feshin spent every summer in his native places, living with his uncles in Kushna or in Cheboksary at the relatives of Thermal. By the period of 1904-1906, a number of portraits of relatives and acquaintances include a number of technical techniques that later developed in Feshin’s individual style system-the desire for broad, free writing. During his stay in Mstera in 1904, Feshin took up teaching for the first time, working in a local icon painting school. In 1904, Feshin met with engineer N. Izhitsky, who persuaded him to go to Siberia – to the South Yenisei taiga; He returned to St. Petersburg in the beginning of 1905. The artist did not stay away from revolutionary events: by 1905-1907 his sketches “Exit from the Factory”, “1905 at the Factory”, “Shooting” are included. At the next spring exhibition at the Academy in 1906, the censor did not miss the work of Brodsky, Shlughleyt and Feshin on a revolutionary theme. In the same year 1906 Feshin received an invitation to lead the drawing classes at the imperial porcelain and glass factories, but rejected it.
It is noteworthy that St. Petersburg, with its historical and cultural environment and spiritual atmosphere, did not have any influence on Feshin’s artistic interests, which indicates its extremely early development and the integrity of the artistic nature.
Care Repin from the Academy was the impetus for the disclosure of Feshin personality. The last two years spent at the Academy, Feshin read a lot and experimented with soils and paints. In particular, he refused to use the ready-made oil primer, replacing it with casein or gelatin, and along with the brushes he used knives. All this led to the adoption of a broader and more free manner of writing. The texture of the picturesque surface was now included in Feschin’s arsenal of artistic techniques.
According to GP Tuluzakova, “Feshin becomes Feshin” with the creation in 1908 of the painting “Cheremis wedding”. The summer of 1908, NI Feshin spent in the Mari village of Lipsha, where he collected a lot of artistic material, which he processed in his uncle’s house in Kazan. As a plot, the artist chose the moment of removal of the young from the parental home, which takes place before the eyes of the whole village. An important role in the picture was played by contrasts, marked at different levels – an external action, underscored ugly faces, a gray landscape, the dynamics of the crowd of the second plan and the statics of the figures of the first plan, chromatic and achromatic. At the spring academic exhibition in 1909, “Cheremis wedding” was awarded the I Prize for them. Kuinji was sent to the exhibition in Munich. The work aroused the rejection of the German public and disparaging reviews of critics. Thus, I. Yevseyev wrote: “It’s simply unfortunate that this artist, with all his virtues of the painter, apparently distorts the design with ingenuity, and in exaggeration gets ridiculous.” Further, the critic complained that he was “ashamed of this caricature of Russian life” [Note 1]. In 1910 the Cheremis wedding was exhibited at the Carnegie Institution (Pittsburgh, USA), where it was purchased by financier William Stimmel, who since then has been deliberately collecting a collection of works by N. Feshin.
Program for Feshin was the picture “The Lady in the Purple.” The name of the woman who served as a model for this portrait is unknown. For the etude, a recorded canvas was used, the colorful layer of which shone through the background of the Feshinsky portrait, complicating the color scale of the canvas. For the artist, the individuality of the model was particularly important, because of which the person was transferred almost photographically, all secondary takes the form of a semi-abstract space. This picture was awarded a small gold medal at the international exhibition in Munich, as Feshin wrote, – unexpectedly for him, since it was a teaching work.
1909 was the last for Feshin at the Academy. This moment coincided with the crisis in the Kazan art school. The Imperial Academy of Arts demanded that the Kazan school improve the quality of teaching, in 1908 its head GA Medvedev invited Feshin as a full-time teacher and a government workshop in the new school building. Since November 1, 1909 Feshin was approved by the staff teacher of the Kazan Art School in the class of painting and drawing.
The competitive work of Feshin was “Kapustnitsa”, which has many parallels with the “Cheremiss wedding”. He wrote it in Kazan. The artist again was selected plot from the village life – salting cabbage for the winter on Vozdvizhenie. The plot provided an opportunity to express the plexus of joyful and dull, healthy and wretched, etc. Feshin conducted extensive preparatory work in the village of Pushkarka near Arzamas, two versions of the sketch of the composition of the painting were preserved.
Nikolai Ivanovich Feshin graduated from the Academy with the award, which made it possible to make a trip abroad (the decision on awarding him the title of artist was issued on October 30, 1909). In the spring of 1910 Feshin left Russia for the first time in his life, visiting Berlin, Munich, Verona, Venice, Milan, Padua, Florence, Rome, Naples, Vienna. The journey ended in Paris. On the trip he was accompanied by Nadezhda Mikhailovna Sapozhnikova (1877-1942), a representative of the merchant dynasty of Kazan, an amateur artist.
Settled in Kazan, Feshin settled right in his workshop in the building of an art school. According to the memoirs, Feshin-teacher preferred the method of visual display, working in the studio with his students. At the heart of it was Repin’s system: Feshin never theorized, explained everything very briefly, and if the student did not understand, then he took a charcoal, a pencil or a brush and himself showed everything. He never ruled the student’s work, respecting all individuality (memories of GA Melentiev). One of the first students Feshina in Kazan was Nadezhda Mikhailovna Sapozhnikova, who was familiar with him since 1908. After Feshin finished her pensioner trip to Paris, she stayed there until 1912, working in the workshops of Vitya and Van Dongen. After the return of N. Sapozhnikova founded her own workshop in Kazan (in Petropavlovskiy lane, now – Rahmatullina Street), taught at an art school, she constantly gathered artists – teachers and students. Friendly relations between them were maintained until NI Feshin left for abroad. NM Sapozhnikova was also the first patron of Feshin: in her collection there were 11 of his works, including five portraits, sometimes written in her studio.
At school, Feshin had friendly relations with the artist Pavel Benkov and the poet Pavel Radimov, who taught art history at school. Communicated with him and P. Dulsky, subsequently wrote the first study of Feshin. Since 1909 Feshin’s works have regularly participated in foreign exhibitions, including three times at the international exhibition in Munich, five times at the exhibitions of the Carnegie Institution (Pittsburgh), as well as at exhibitions in New York, Rome, Amsterdam, Venice, San Francisco and others. In October 1913, by decree of the Board of Trustees of the Art School, Feshin was presented for the awarding of the Order of St. Stanislav III degree. For correspondence with foreigners Feshin, who did not know any language, needed an assistant secretary. She became Alexandra Belkovich (1892-1983) – the daughter of the first director of the art school NN Belkovich, a student Feshina. In 1913 they entered into marriage, the bride was 21 years old, and the groom – 32 years. In 1914 their only daughter, Oia, was born. Feshin recalled that duties in art and the family at first seemed incompatible to him.
From the moment of moving to Kazan in the works of Feshin, an exceptional place is occupied by a picturesque portrait. He painted portraits of mostly acquaintances – his wife and daughter, students and students of the art school, friends. Custom portraits in this period are rare, and always their customers were representatives of the intelligentsia and the artistic environment. A special focus of Feshin’s creative work of the Kazan period was the portrait of Vary Adoratskaya [Note 3], written in 1914. Even at the first expositions, the portrait was compared with the “Girl with Peaches” by VA Serov. Feshin used a rather extravagant compositional technique, placing the girl in the area of the still life depicted in the foreground. The figure of the girl is shifted from the central axis, the composition is asymmetric, but the face is placed in the optically active part of the canvas. Portrait of Vary Adoratskaya is one of the most harmonious creatures of Feshin.
Between 1910-1914, Feshin created many sketches of genre compositions, for example, “Unsuccessful joke”, “Village”, “Horovod” and others, but none of the stories got any development. In 1911, Feshin began to create a large canvas “Pouring.” The work was conducted in the village of Nadezhdino, Laishevsky Uyezd – the estate of the former director of the school NN Belkovich, where artists constantly stayed. The plot was taken from the popular, yet semi-lingual, tradition in which the Christian cleansing from sins was combined with the rituals of rain. The artist has set himself the task of finding a plastic reception of a letter to convey a feeling of action. Lubrication and strangeness are explained by the fact that Feshin did not complete the picture, but incompleteness, according to GP Tuluzakova, is not entirely accidental. Feshin tried to convey the emotional state of the characters, when on a warm summer day they poured well water. Characteristically, the faces of the characters of the second plan are fashioned clearly, while the figure of the woman in the foreground is blurred, especially her face and hands.
A characteristic feature of modern art is artistic universalism. Feshin’s interest in architecture and the projectivity of his thinking were laid down in childhood when he created drawings of iconostasis; In the Academy of Arts there was also an obligatory course of architecture. Love of wood and the skills of the carver have also been grafted into the father’s workshop. However, Feshin was able to realize his aspirations in the 1910s, when he decorated his workshop with carved furniture in the Kazan Art School, and also created several items for the workshop of NM Sapozhnikova. For the most part, they are lost.
In 1914 Feshin became a member of the art commission of the provincial Zemstvo handicraft industry museum, and also took part in drawing up the charter of the artisan and craft workshops of the Kazan zemstvo.
After settling in Kazan, the artist did not break with the artistic world of the capital, taking part in the work of the All-Russian Congress of Artists in St. Petersburg, held in 1911-1912. Since 1912 Nikolay Feshin participated in exhibitions of TPHV, in 1916 he became a full member of TPHV. He exhibited in the “New Union of traveling exhibitions” (since 1910 – “Community of Artists”). October 24, 1916 in the Academy of Arts held a ballot Feshin for the title of academician of painting; 21 votes were cast for and 14 against.
Until 1923 Kazan Art School changed its names four times, which reflected changes in its structure and principles of teaching. Since 1918 the Kazan school began to focus on the program settings of Vkhutemas and Vhutein, at the head of this process was the architect F. P. Gavrilov. The young generation of teachers (K. Chebotarev, P. Mansurov) built his teaching method in direct opposition to the traditional methods of art education, which defended N. Feshin, P. Benkov and N. Sapozhnikova. In 1919 Feshin first systematized his views on artistic pedagogy in the program he compiled. In particular, he wrote that no “artificial benefits” are needed, since a novice artist must “draw form from himself and from nature”. In 1920, Feshin was elected the head of the academic unit and chairman of the artistic council of the Kazan state free art workshops.
Since 1918 Feshin was forced to write portraits of political figures (within the framework of the Leninist plan for monumental propaganda), which are not very successful, since his portrait art was dependent on the natural impulse. Nevertheless, the photographs were created portraits of VI Lenin, K. Marx, L. Trotsky (lost) and A. V. Lunacharsky. In addition, in 1920, portraits of L. van Beethoven, F. Liszt, M. P. Mussorgsky, M. I. Glinka, N. Paganini, N. A. Rimsky- Korsakov and A. Rubinstein.
In search of earnings Feshin in the early 1920’s refers to a portrait miniature. According to PM Dulsky, in 1920 Feshin received an order from the museum of the handicraft industry of Selkredpromsoyuz, 32 miniatures were created, of which 27 were preserved – all in Kazan (including 1 in a private collection). Five miniatures were stolen from the museum back in the 1940s.
In the revolutionary years, Feshin also turned to sculpture, primarily for utilitarian purposes – making volumetric figures for the calculation of the composition of the new painting “Slaughterhouse”. Two portrait sculptures were also created: a portrait of the father in height (lost) and the head of the village fool Salavatulla, whom Feshin also wrote several times. The last work shows a sufficiently high professional level of Feshin in sculpture. Less known are Feshin’s works in the theater, in particular, his sketches of scenery for J. Bizet’s opera “Carmen”, staged at the Soviet city theater of Kazan in the season of 1918-19. The scenery was performed in the gray-olive range, the artist actively used the techniques of easel painting. In Vasilievo Feshin created about 25 landscapes, which are stored in different provincial museums.
The last large-format multi-figured picture of Feshin was “Slaughterhouse”, finished in 1919. The artist chose the plot of the act of slaughter cattle. According to PM Dulsky, the picture was conceived as far back as 1904 during Feshin’s trip to the South Yenisei taiga, where he saw how the cattle were cut in the villages directly in the open. Since 1905 he wrote sketches and sketches, and to the very canvas began in 1912 and worked until 1919. Feshin was interested in the contrast of the subtlety of formal techniques and the antiestheticism of the subject, so the bright effect of the spilled blood was important for him. The painting shows cutting meat in a Jewish way – releasing blood from the throat. The last sketches of Feshin in 1921 (“The Famine”, “The Rebellion in the Rear of Kolchak”) are on the subject of “Boyne”. Feshin did not return to genre painting any more.
Since 1921, the American Administration of Assistance (ARA) has opened its activity in Kazan, its employees began to order Feshin’s portraits, for which the artist took the standard price of 250 million Soviet rubles, which was $ 50. Through the regional commissioner of the ARA, D. Warren Feshin resumed his correspondence with W. Stimmel.
In connection with the fact that officially the US did not recognize the Bolshevik government, Feshin could only go there through Riga. It took a year to agree and receive the necessary papers. In September 1922 in ARKHUMAS, as was then called Kazan Art School, a farewell banquet was held with Academician Feshin. However, after the Feshin family moved to Moscow, difficulties arose with the departure. Great help in obtaining the necessary documents in Moscow was given to Feshin by his former students – A. V. Grigoriev, then a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and P. A. Radimov – the first chairman of the AHRR. On August 1, 1923 the Feshin family arrived in New York.
Feshin family was met in New York by artist A. Gorson, sent by Stimmel. To begin with, they were looking for a three-room apartment in the Bronx, soon the family moved to a spacious two-story apartment on 67th West Street, near Central Park, where there was a special studio for painting. Feshin began to write immediately, coming to a special delight from black people and asking him to hire a black model for him. Her portrait became the first American work of the artist.
Feshin’s apartment was located in the quarter where prosperous artists lived and worked. For Feshin organized a master class for professionals, but he did not know a word of English, the translator was a wife who could speak only French. Alexandra Feshina learned English in just five months and was the first in the family to receive American citizenship. The organizer of the master class was the artist Dean Cornwell, who believed that “as a teacher, Feshin soon expounded the philosophy of art than just taught the technique.” Feshin also became a teacher at the New York Academy of Arts at the Grand Central Galleries. The teaching did not work out, Feshin said that the Americans “are content with external effects, and if I correct the work, they are asked to sign it.”
Feshin quickly joined the artistic life of New York. A few months after his arrival, 18 of his works were included in the annual Winter Exhibition of the National Academy of Design, at which Feshin received the prize of Thomas R. Proctor in the category of portrait painting. In this exhibition participated, in particular, Boris Anisfeld, David Burliuk, Lev Bakst, Vasily Kandinsky. In 1924, his personal exhibition was held in Chicago, where 22 of his works were presented, Feshin was also exhibited at the Voss Gallery in Boston. In 1925 Feshin’s exhibition took place in the New York Arden Gallery, most of the 32 works exhibited there were sold.
The portrait occupied a dominant position in American creativity Feshin. Among the most famous of his works – a portrait of Lillian Gish in the form of Romola – the heroine George Eliot, as well as “Portrait of the engraver WJ Watts.” Lillian Guiche ordered her portrait Feshina after visiting the exhibition in the gallery of Milcho on 5th Avenue, being impressed by the portrait of D. Burliuk presented there. However, the main circle of Feshin’s models was his wife and daughter, as well as Russian artists who emigrated to the United States. Stylistically, his portraits are close to the works of the Kazan period and vary already established themes.
Nevertheless, Feshin continued his experiments. In New York, he wrote his only urban landscape – “Streets of New York” (now in a private collection). In 1925 Feshin returned to landscape painting in the open air, when he spent his vacation in California with his patron J. Burnham. A visit to California was not an accident: after the shocks of previous years, tuberculosis was discovered, it was required to find a place with a more suitable climate than the East Coast. Feshiny in 1924-1926 traveled several southern states, but without success. Feshin’s neighbor in the house – the English artist Jack Young-Hunter – advised them Taos, where he periodically came. Thanks to the recommendation of Yang-Hunter, N. Feshin spent the summer of 1926 in Taos. He recalled that when he saw Taos, he realized that “this is another world, another dimension.”
In 1926, Taos was a village with 650 inhabitants, deprived of electricity and basic amenities. In 1898 an American artist Joseph Henry Sharpe settled here, followed by his other colleagues. In 1915 the Society of Taos artists was founded, whose participants regularly exhibited their paintings at exhibitions in New York, Boston and Philadelphia. In the 1920s, the artistic colony of Taos counted two generations and became international. Since 1919, the famous secular lioness and philanthropist Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879-1962) settled here, which transformed Taos into an “oasis of American modernism.”
In the summer of 1927 Feshins bought a plot of land near Taos, where they started building a house, which lasted 6 years – until 1933. His architect was himself Feshin, preserved his penciled architectural sketches. According to the memories of his daughter Ii, Feshin liked Mexican houses made of clay visually “grown up” from the earth, so the house was built of white adobs. The whole furnishings of the house, in particular the doors (51 in all), were made by Feshin’s hands and decorated with “neo-folklore” carving of his own performance, sustained in the same style.
In Taos, in addition to painting and carving, Feshin began to actively engage in ceramics, taking lessons from a local Indian woman master, Maria Martinez. The subject of wooden sculpture (“Jesus”, “Pan”, “Abduction of Europe”) is expanding, Feshin also tried to translate into plastic the picturesque images of M. Vrubel. A great influence on Feshin in this field of art was provided by S. Konenkov; Personally they met in 1934 in New York, when the sculptor created a plaster bust of Feshin, and the painter – graphic portraits of Konenkov and his wife. Gypsum portrait of the artist Konenkov brought to the USSR, and in 1963, at the request of Izomuzey TASSR, he transferred it to marble.
The artistic community of Taos took Feshin to its ranks, the daughter – Iya – could receive a home education here. Before Feshin, the only inhabitant of Taos, who came from Russia, was the artist Leon Gaspar, with whom the Feshins could speak in Russian. It was on his advice Feshin doubled the price of his works, receiving a solid material benefit. In 1931, Feshin accepted American citizenship, much later than his wife, because he did not know English.
The main heroes of Feshin’s works of the Tao period are Indians and Mexicans, who reminded the artist of the pagan rites of the Mari and Russian outback in the Volga region. Iya Feshina even claimed that the Indians were very much like the Tatars. The new texture led to a change in the color structure of the artist’s paintings, Feshin begins to contrast large color contrasts. Expressionist tendencies in his work were manifested precisely in the work with color, and not in the grotesqueness of forms. Feshin continued to paint portraits, but in the Tao period, they were mostly graphic, the models were still his wife and daughter, as well as representatives of the artistic environment.
In 1934, a drama occurred in Feshin’s life: after 20 years of living together, Aleksandra Nikolaevna demanded a divorce. According to Ii Feshina, she wanted to become an independent person, tired of living in the shadow of her husband, and dreamed of becoming a writer. There were also complaints about the explosive and impulsive nature of Feshin himself. Correspondence between Nicholas and Alexandra Feshin continued until 1938, he tried several times to return to Taos and restore their relationship, but A. Feshina responded invariably cold.
After the break with Feshin, Alexandra had no means of subsistence. She was forced to rent cheap housing or huddle in the workshop, ate once a day at the Taoshi restaurant Kashina Lodge, and never paid. The owner of the restaurant came to her home once a year, taking in payment those of Feshin’s works, which he liked. She managed to publish at her own expense in 1937 the only book – “March of the Past” – two stories in English about the flight of whites from Kazan and his own life in Vasilievo. There were plans for the second book, but they did not come true. Died Alexander Feshin in 1983, until the end of his life without parting with the house in Taos. In 1979, Iya Nikolaevna Feshina-Branham achieved the inclusion of the house in the list of national historical monuments of the USA.
Of 32 years spent in the USA, Foshin lived in Taos for less than seven years, but in American art history he is firmly associated with the Taoist artistic colony, paying less attention to the New York and California periods of creativity.
Feshin’s house in Taos was written in the name of Alexandra Nikolaevna, since when buying land in 1927, without citizenship, he did not have the right to property in the United States. Her daughter (she was 19 years old) did not want to stay with her mother, Nicholas and Iya Feshiny left for New York. The Great Depression did not touch the artist, money was enough, but the father and daughter were not able to farm (they did not even know how to cook). They ate almost exclusively with herring and buckwheat, which Feshin bought in the local market, remembering how he lived during his student years in Russia; As a result, both fell ill. Despite the fact that Feshin rented an apartment with a studio and started working, he was tormented by depression, the pictures were not sold. A new impulse was the enthusiasm of Iya Feshina modern dances, as well as the offer of gallery owner Earl Stendhal to move to Los Angeles. In California Feshina expected success: in the gallery of Stendhal he began to teach in art classes, and he could simultaneously train up to 80 people, mainly – designers of Hollywood studios.
Works Feshin began to sell well, he was able to buy for himself and his daughter a big house in Hollywood. After the daughter was married, in 1945 Feshin bought a studio with living rooms on the slope of the canyon in Santa Monica. Over time, the artist has furnished his house with wooden furniture of his own work and sculpture, but the Indian motives in it completely replaced the Russian foundation.
In 1936 Feshin went to Mexico City for six months with his students – Katherine Benepi, brothers Burroughs and William Black. He was impressed by the pre-Columbian ruins of Teotihuacan, and in Oaxaca he met Diego Rivera, who spent several days with him, both of whom “tried to understand the English language of their counterparts.” In Mexico, Feshin was extremely interested in photography, bringing home over 300 pictures.
In September 1938 Feshin gathered for a long journey across the Far East. He was accompanied by Milan Rupert, who was the initiator of the voyage. China could not go to China, because the State Department recommended that American citizens refrain from visiting this country, disappointed Feshin and Rupert decided in return to go to Bali. In Bali, Feshin lived for five months, rented a house and arranged a studio, in which he painted and wrote local residents. From Indonesia, the artist went to Japan, after visiting Tokyo and Yokohama. After that Feshin did not leave California anymore.
After the outbreak of World War II Feshin worked for the US military department, writing portraits of generals Cannon and Iker, for which he received an hourly fee. In Washington they wanted to offer him a large order for portraits of active military leaders, but the artist refused. In the last years of his life Feshin wrote mainly representatives of the business community and ladies from the upper world. For himself, he reproduced Taoist motifs or worked on photographs brought from Mexico and Bali. In California, he began to paint landscapes for the third time, but the factured delicacies begin to play a self-sufficing character, resembling semi-abstract compositions.
In the Californian period, Feshin dealt extensively with easel painting as an independent kind of creativity, not associated with painting. In Bali, he began to experiment with the principles of Chinese art, and later copied the graphics of Holbein, trying to assimilate the accuracy of his drawings.
The rest of his life Feshin spent alone, communicating with his daughter, who occasionally visited him. In 1953 or 1954 he wrote in Russian his autobiography, which was published only in English in excerpts; It is mainly devoted to the events of life in Russia. His savings were over, the artist lived on beggarly earnings from private drawing lessons. Nikolai Ivanovich Feshin died in a dream on October 5, 1955, before he could finish the landscape he worked on. In 1976, at the first opportunity created, Iya Feshina reburied his father’s ashes in Kazan, such was his last will. On November 2, 2011, Iha Nikolayevna’s ashes were buried in the Arskoye cemetery in one grave with her father. The reburial was timed to coincide with the opening of the exhibition in honor of the artist’s 130th birthday.
The first art work on N. Feshin was written and published by PM Dulsky. Dulsky’s essay contains abundant factual material, as well as works listed abroad or lost. Since the 1920s, Feshin’s name has been encountered less and less in Soviet publications, but never completely disappears. The first exposition of Feshin’s works in Kazan was opened in 1958 thanks to the efforts of GA Mogilnikova. In 1963-1965, a large retrospective exhibition of Feshin was exhibited in Kazan, Moscow, Leningrad and Kirov, at the same time a catalog was published. Under the editorship of GA Mogilnikova in 1975, a collection of letters, documents and memoirs by Feshin was published. In 1992, the catalog of Feshin’s creativity was published in Kazan until 1923, including also biographical materials, a summary of the artist’s exhibitions until 1990 on the territory of Russia and so on. Galina Petrovna Tuluzakova (the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts), who defended his thesis, published in 2007, 2009 and 2012 albums catalogs of his works, including the most detailed Russian biography of the artist and a detailed analysis of his work and Individual works.
In the West in the 1920s-1940s reviews about Feshin were small and complimentary. Serious research emerged only in the 1960s, when a catalog was produced in New York for a large retrospective exhibition with the reproduction of 328 works from the collection of the artist’s daughter, Ia Nikolaevna Feshina-Branham. The most fundamental work on the artist in America is the book by the artist M. Balcom, published in 1975. In this book, his work was written in the framework of the European tradition, but at the same time it was stated that Feshin had nothing to do with the processes of the artistic life of the United States, fully belonged to Russian culture. In 2001, the book F. Fenn The Genius of Nicolai Fechin, based on interview records with Alexandra Nikolaevna Feshina, was published here, and Mexican photographs of Nikolai Ivanovich were published here.
The huge legacy of N. Feshin is scattered all over the world, and its dispersion began in the 1900s, when the works exhibited abroad were lost sight of. Thanks to the efforts of PM Dulsky, the museum of the Tatar republic (now the State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan) in 1919 acquired three paintings by Feshin: “In the Cooper’s Workshop”, “Portrait of Tamara Popova” and “Portrait of the Wife” (stolen in 1945). Forever leaving Russia, Feshin left for storage in the museum large-scale canvases “Pouring”, “Portrait of the Father” and “Slaughterhouse”, and many sketches and sketches remained with his wife’s relatives and were acquired by the Kazan Museum in the 1970s through the efforts of GA Mogilnikova . Feshinskaya collection in Kazan was replenished in 1964 after the death of VV Adoratskaya, and in 1976 many works were donated to the museum by I. N. Feshina-Branham. As of 2005, the Feshin collection of the Pushkin Museum of the RT (Art Gallery “Hazin” in the Kazan Kremlin) had 189 items of storage. A representative collection of paintings Feshin (portraits, landscape) is exhibited in the halls of the Chuvash State Art Museum.
In 1983, the centenary of Feshin’s birth, his daughter Iya Nikolaevna, in her former artist’s house in Taos, founded the Feshin Institute with a museum and an educational center. After her death in 2003, the house museum was transferred to a private foundation, forming the Taoist Art Museum and the Feshin House Museum.
A large collection is collected in the Stark Museum in Texas – more than 60 works. Feshin’s paintings are also kept in the Museum of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Fray Museum in Seattle, the Harvard University Museum. A lot of work was in private collections.
Seven paintings of the American period Feshin, including “Portrait of the engraver WJ Watts,” are stored in a private collection of Russian philanthropist and businessman Andrei Filatov. In December 2010 Feshin’s painting “The Little Cowboy” was sold at a London auction for £ 6.9 million, which made him one of the most expensive artists in Russia. It is characteristic that the observers considered this transaction “paradoxical”.
The full monographic exhibition of Nikolay Feshin was opened in the State Museum of Fine Arts of the Republic of Tatarstan (National Art Gallery “Khazine”) on November 3, 2011 and lasted until January 15, 2012. The exhibition was dedicated to the artist’s 130th birthday, the collection of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts was fully presented, the exposition was supplemented with works from the collections of seven Russian, six American museums and private collections of Russia, the USA and Switzerland. Then she was moved to the State Russian Museum, where she reopened on February 29, 2012.
Both in Russia and in the US Feshin is perceived ambiguously. He can be called a genius and talent, but can also be judged as a salon painter who “did not know and did not like the Russian people”, accentuating “the beastlike faces of the peasants, the dullness of female physiognomy and the ugly shapes to ugliness”. In the US, you can also find the opinion that in the memory of America, he remained only because he wrote the Indians and thus “got into the subject.”