Culture Across the Generations: THE TSIGAL DYNASTY

Sergei Orlov

Article: 
ARTISTIC DYNASTY
Magazine issue: 
#1 2018 (58)

ARTISTIC DYNASTIES ARE ONE OF THE CULTURAL “CONNECTING FORCES” THAT HELP TO PRESERVE AND AUGMENT - AS WELL AS CARRY FORWARD INTO THE FUTURE - THE ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE OF PAST GENERATIONS. THEY RANGE EXTREMELY WIDELY AND OFTEN ENCOMPASS DIFFERENT ART FORMS - POETRY, MUSIC, THEATRE, ART AND ARCHITECTURE.

From left: Vladimir, Yefim, Viktor and Adel Tsigal. 1926
From left: Vladimir, Yefim, Viktor and Adel Tsigal. 1926. Photograph

The creative experience of one family, passed on unnoticeably but unfailingly, first to children and then to grandchildren and yet further, is an organic linkage that ensures cultural continuity across time.

In Russia, the phenomenon made itself powerfully felt in the art of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Later, under the impact of historical trauma, it was rather interrupted and broken, and it was not until the last three or four decades of the 20th century that the process of its restoration began; it seems likely that in the future such artistic dynasties will continue to play a significant role.

At Alexander Tsigal’s studio. From left: Vatslav Shaginyan, Alexander Tsigal, Sergei Tsigal
At Alexander Tsigal’s studio.
From left: Vatslav Shaginyan, Alexander Tsigal, Sergei Tsigal. Photograph

The Tsigal family is one such artistic entity, which has united the creative endeavours of different generations. Its pioneers were Vladimir Yefimovich Tsigal (1917-2013), a prominent sculptor and creator of monumental and decorative sculptural objects, and his brother, Viktor Yefimovich Tsigal (1916-2005), a virtuoso artist who distinguished himself in the fields of graphics, painting, ceramics and metalware.

Their sons duly took over their fathers' mantles of creativity. Alexander Tsigal (born 1948), the son of Vladimir, chose the challenging and ambitious sphere of sculpture, while Sergei Tsigal (born 1949), the son of Viktor, has focused on several areas of artistic creation. He is above all a printmaker, and the creator of many series of etchings that feature sailing boats, birds, clouds, animals and fish, and an everlasting world of natural forms.

Sergei is also endowed with a story-telling gift and has the showmanship of a television presenter. He has an enduring passion for international travel too, and has become an expert on exotic food, an aficiando of the secrets of culinary delicacies of all countries, nations and eras! His television projects such as “Going for Shish Kebabs", “Recipe Hunters" and “Culinary Travels", in which his wife, the actress Lyubov Polishchuk, and their daughter Marietta have taken part, enjoyed great popularity.

The real treasure of the Tsigal family, however, has been its talented, wonderful women. Prime among them was Mirel (Mirelle) Shaginyan (1918-2012), the wife of Viktor Tsigal, the daughter of the famous writer Marietta Shaginyan, who graduated from the Surikov Art Institute, where she studied under Alexander Deyneka, with a degree in mural painting. (Deyneka captured the young woman artist's image in a radiant, cheerful composition from 1944.)

Masha Tsigal (born 1980), daughter of Alexander, belongs to the third generation of the artistic dynasty. She works in the world of design, fashion and style, including European-linked projects in those fields.

 

Koktebel connections

Mirel's life and creative work was inseparably connected with the Crimean resort town of Koktebel. Her mother Marietta was a friend of Maximilian Voloshin and his wife Maria, and over the summer months the Shaginyan family often stayed in the Voloshins' home there. Mirel reminisced that she first set foot in Koktebel when she was 10: “In my life I've travelled a lot to many different countries; I have visited Africa 16 times, but there was not a single summer when I did not visit Koktebel and Voloshin's house. I visited the House of Poets while Max was still alive, and then I stayed with Marusya there. I am calling them the way I used to address them - by their shortened first names. That was how every child living in the House of Poets addressed Max and Marusya. We lived in the attic. We had our own mattresses and pillows, which we removed in the morning."

In 1947 Marietta herself bought a small house in Koktebel, with a mud floor, two communicating rooms, and a porch, which became a favourite place for the entire family. Mirel and Viktor Tsigal laid a new floor, built a terrace and a studio, and planted a garden with fruit trees, roses and lilacs. Viktor fashioned a seahorse out of strips of metal and secured this lovely coat of arms over a wicket door in the fence; he also found a manufacturer of ceramic toys who set up a potter's lathe in the workshop and built a solid kiln near the house.

In Koktebel, Viktor worked on illustrations for children's books and produced pottery. Crimea's majestic views suggested the main genres of the artist's work - landscape sketches and paintings created in the open air. Tepsen, meaning in Turkish “a plate", was his favourite location for his plein-air pieces: a “table-top" hill of the kind that can be found in many mountainous areas, Tepsen offers artists wondrous opportunities in terms of scenery.

Viktor and Mirel worked together sketching panoramic views from such elevated locations. Mirel would work on her sketches, while Viktor portrayed her against the background of the epic scenery. “My goal is to capture images of Mirel at work, and the landscapes behind her. Many sketches in this vein have been created over many years. Mirel is always picturesque. Any sarafan dress, any warm jacket suits her. She herself is so unusual, so singular that her presence always brings an order to a landscape... My sketches of Mirel painting in the open air are of different dimensions, ranging from a tiny piece the size of a thimble to boards 50 by 70 [centimeters], and even some larger sizes. I've done a lot of her graphic images. Moulded them from clay, cut them from iron. That was started at home. Then I would do the welding at an industrial workshop for artists. Mirel has always been, and remains, for me an object of caricatures or posters produced to mark her return from yet another African trip, or for a family celebration."

The house that everybody had known as “Marietta Shaginyan's house" became over time known as “Lyubov Polishchuk's house": Sergei Tsigal and his wife Lyubov Polishchuk would come to Koktebel every year. The actress's temperamental, artistic nature was masterfully captured by her brother-in-law Viktor in a cheerful, carnivalesque and enigmatic painted portrait.

The actress was known and loved by millions, so it is not surprising that her admirers visited her at her home in Koktebel. Such guests included her friends who were vacationing in the Writers' Union recreation centre, the House of Poets; Yevgeny Yevtushenko was a frequent guest, too.

 

Brothers in war

Vladimir and Viktor Tsigal were the founders of the dynasty. “In the entire world there is not a single person who is closer to me than my brother, Volodya Tsigal," Viktor used to say. The brothers were united by an invisible, unfathomable force, of the kind that can only can be expressed in poetry. It was in such a form, in the rhythms of thought of verse, that Vladimir Tsigal expressed the meaning of “Two":

Two of Us

There’ve been Just the two of us throughout life’s span.
There were girlfriends and friends,
Wives, children and family,
A huge world and all that.
But all our life there’ve been the two of us.
And there was one memory for the two,
And its most treasured part,
When our mother was still around.
War had scattered us To the far corners,
But for better or worse
There have been only the two of us.
He was long-nosed, tall, and good with his hands,
Talented, witty and loud-mouthed,
He painted pictures, made drawings
And published lots of books.
I was somewhat shorter,
I was contentious, not as good a drawer.
But, from bronze and granite
I have created monuments.

The brothers' biographies have much in common, and seem to mirror each other. Both left the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow in their graduation years to volunteer for the army. Both went through the crucible of the Great Patriotic War, and on several occasions they came very close to death. They were combat veterans, but they hated war and loved life.

Viktor Tsigal. 1943–1944
Viktor Tsigal. 1943-1944
Battlefield photograph

In 1942, Viktor Tsigal was in his final year at the Surikov; some of the Institute's students and staff were in evacuation in Samarkand, while others were already back in Moscow. Viktor was on his way from Samarkand to Moscow. A Volunteer Armoured Corps was then being organized in Sverdlovsk. Without much hesitation, Viktor joined the corps' political department as a visual artist. As he remembered: “I joined the corps. Volodya, my brother, is already at the front.... And overall, a healthy young man is looked at with suspicion. He may be either a deserter or a spy. Okay, it's a pity that I'm not going to get my degree but. And off I went from Moscow on armoured vehicles and lorries - across Russia, across Europe, across different fronts, for two-and-a-half years.

“Then, in 1945, in Sverdlovsk I published a collection of battlefield images ‘Combat Heroes of the 10th Volunteer Armoured Corps' and made it my graduation work at the Institute in Moscow."

In 2003, Viktor Tsigal published his memoirs, titled “My Journey", which included a touching text, “On Fear at War". He wrote: “We were enclosed within a circle of flames. The Polish villages around us were burning. It was night. The artillery was rumbling on and on. Nobody can say where our guys were, and where were the Germans. Where to go... It seemed to me then that fear only grew if you stayed inactive. Almost any action, every activity, even when it's lacking sense and especially when it's shared, partially relieves fear. Our column of three tanks, one of them a Tiger, did not stand idle. It was making headway. That was how the panic was mitigated, that was how fear was dealt with."

Vladimir Tsigal. 1943–1944
Vladimir Tsigal. 1943-1944
Battlefield photograph

Vladimir Tsigal enrolled at the sculpture department of the Surikov Art Institute in 1937, where his professors were Ivan Shadr, Vladimir Domogatsky and Alexander Matveev. In 1942, he volunteered for the army, leaving the Institute in his graduation year. Until 1944 he served in the navy as a military artist, participating in landing operations in Novorossiysk and Kerch, and in engagements of the Black Sea and the Baltic Fleets.After the war, in 1948, he graduated from Romuald Iodko's sculpture workshop at the Surikov Art Institute. For many years the subject of the Great Patriotic War was central for the artist - his most important monumental pieces, as well as many small-size sculptures and series of drawings, were devoted to it.

In his autobiography, “Every Minute a Surprise. Notes of a Sculptor" (1986), Vladimir Tsigal very compellingly and realistically portrayed the horrible and heroic scenes of the assault on, and defence of the base of operations in Novorossiysk in February 1943. The events in which he participated are retraced in a wonderfully convincing manner. One astonishing episode recalls the artist aboard a mine-sweeper carrying wounded soldiers from Novorossiysk's burning assault lines to Gelendzhik - as if in a dream, a torpedo passed then by, very narrowly missing the ship. “And I beheld death. It slipped past us as a dark shadow. Infinitely long and dark death. All together we were saying, looking back at the sea: ‘It passed, it almost touched the vessel! A narrow miss!'"

“Life on the battlefield is like a convoluted and complex labyrinth," the artist wrote. “Where is the space, between the outbursts of machine-guns and the deadly fragments, in which you can stay alive only if you don't make that one extra step to the side, forward or backward - the step that will prove to be fatal?"

Viktor and Vladimir Tsigal's battlefield images are items of priceless historical record, their pictures created very close to the frontline, the line of fire itself. They are sketches of scenes from life, fragments of the interiors of houses, street fighting, movement of the columns, frontline highways. But the portraits of soldiers are their most important element - tank operators, pilots, infantrymen, sailors, medical orderlies - all done quickly, in the presence of fellow soldiers, energetic, accurate images, accomplished almost like a sprint.

In Gelendzhik, Vladimir Tsigal drew images of sailors all day long, in sittings lasting 15-20 minutes each. The drawings were destined for the Black Sea Fleet's newspaper “Krasny chernomorets" (Black Sea Sailor), for propaganda fliers, and for the soldiers themselves, who sent their battlefield portraits home to their families. In Novorossiysk, Tsigal used to sketch in semi-destroyed buildings, depicting wounded soldiers sitting and lying all around. During the war he produced more than 600 battlefield images, most of them now held in the war museums in Novorossiysk and Gelendzhik.

 

Memorial sculpture

Life is interesting not for its succession of days that pass one after another, but for its memorable events: the rest is just a blank, Vladimir Tsigal used to say. His own life had no such blank spells. The succession of memorable events included unveilings of the monuments he created.

But it also included the creation of less formal pieces, compositions focused on ordinary subjects, portraits, reliefs and graphic series. All of Tsigal's works have an autobiographical element to them: both his large-scale projects commissioned by the state and the low-key pieces that he created for himself are in equal measure distinguished by his personal artistic touch, his individuality. Each and every one of them expresses his personal feelings and has deep insights into the essence of things. Vladimir Tsigal's artwork is heartfelt and truthful: he never embellished reality, and always depicted people's destinies with all their dramas, vulnerability, and contradictions with external circumstances.

Regarding the art of sculpture as his lifelong commitment and civic duty, Tsigal looked for narratives of historical importance. The public knows very well his monuments to Soviet soldiers in Berlin, Kostrzyn nad Odrq and Seelow (created in cooperation with Lev Kerbel in 1945); his monument to the victims of fascism killed in Mauthausen (1957, with Kerbel); the memorial in Novorossiysk dedicated to the heroes of the Civil War and the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945 (1977-1982, architects Yakov Belopolsky, Roman Kananin and Vladimir Khavin); his monument to the Hero of the Soviet Union, Lieutenant General Dmitry Karbyshev, within the grounds of the former German concentration camp Mauthausen (1962, Austria); and his monuments to the Heroes of the Soviet Union, Musa Calil in Kazan (architect Lev Golubovsky, 1967), Lieutenant General Dmitry Karbyshev in Moscow (1980), and Richard Sorge in Moscow (1985) and Baku (1981).

Tsigal spoke of his models thus: “Different people, different biographies, they lived and fought differently, and met their deaths differently. For history, they are no longer a general, an officer, or a rank-and-file soldier, but individuals who exemplify the conscience of the generations. And my dream was to bring them back into the ranks as figures in marble, bronze, granite."

In the 1960s-1980s, working on his monuments to the heroes of the Great Patriotic War, Vladimir Tsigal, by his own account, relied not only on his own experiences, faculties, feelings and all his physical strength, but also on memory. The creation of a monumental portrait is a duel, a ruthless inner struggle, a breakthrough towards a documentary, psychologically powerful image. Tsigal created 14 preliminary versions of Karbyshev's portrait - not minor sketches that would fit on a coffee table but real statues, each 1.2 meters high. Only with the 14th version did he sense that he had achieved all that he was striving for; the artist then destroyed all his previous studies.

General Karbyshev was captured and taken to Mauthausen, where on the night of February 17 1945 he was stripped naked and showered with water in the frost until he died. Tsigal spent a lot of time working on the Karbyshev figure before he understood that the general should look handsome and dramatic in his great feat, handsome and lordly as he faced his tormentors, fearsome to them for the strength of his will. “He should epitomize the courage and beauty of the hundreds and thousands of people who fought and perished anonymously. That's how he should look, and I am absolutely certain that that is the way he was. Let him stand firmly on his feet, his fists clenched, his lips tight, lordly and strong, let him stand forever as a symbol of courage, fearlessness, invincible fortitude. May he stay as a symbol for all those who remain alive."

Vladimir Tsigal studied 20th century European sculpture professionally. In 1981, together with Oleg Komov and Yury Chernov, he visited Henry Moore's studio in Britain, where they discussed the symbolism of sculpted forms. The artists had different styles, different artistic goals, but there was one thing that Moore and Tsigal shared - the idea that monuments were symbolical documents of particular eras. In 1940-1941, during the incessant air raids on London, Henry Moore created an immense graphic series devoted to people sheltering in the stations of the London underground. In them, we see rows of bodies on endless platforms and in tunnels, their grotesquely deformed, cramped bodies, and sense their irregular, laboured breathing, and distressing dreams. These underground scenes gave reality to the idea of a transparent, permeable figure.

Tsigal said that he was totally won over by Henry Moore's principle - that the environment penetrates the composition and flows all over it. Tsigal drew Moore's “Reclining Figure" (1967) in front of the UNESCO building in Paris; he also drew Ossip Zadkine's monument “The Destroyed City" in Rotterdam (1953). He talked about the inner dynamics of the Rotterdam monument: it is an entreaty of arms raised towards heaven, an entreaty morphing into a condemnation of the forces that bring death.

The “Destroyed City" monument in Rotterdam and the Karbyshev monument in Mauthausen are executed in very different styles, but are equal in terms of their extreme inner expressiveness, the assertiveness of their political statement, and their powerful energy of protest. They are monuments that became symbols of the great and tragic 20th century.

Tsigal articulated his position. Yes, I accept Moore; yes, I accept Zadkine. But this is not enough for me. I miss the element of portraiture, psychology, the intellectual world of human beings. Tsigal created a new version of the 20th century military, historical monument - the expressive and sublime monument filled with drama. His monuments-cum-portraits and memorial complexes convey, in a concentrated form, the scale and the tragedy of the events of the Great Patriotic War.

Tsigal always found unusual approaches to his work. Examples of this include his two monuments to Richard Sorge - one in the city of the famous Soviet military intelligence officer's birth, Baku (1981), the other in Moscow (1980-1985). The monument in Baku is an expressive and fragmentary portrait that looks like a mask, its huge curved slab of metal slightly resembling a cosmic radar. Sorge's eyes pierce the slab, and the look in them burns through the metal. They are all-seeing, flinty and unsparing. All around the eyes, there are shot-through holes resembling the traces of bullets. The monument in Moscow has Sorge set against a granite slab, which has a space of emptiness excavated inside it that retraces the contours of Sorge's figure. The man has left behind the wall of deadly danger - such is its real symbolic meaning, this is the message of the “see-through", permeable form.

The artist first caught a glimpse of Novorossiysk through a bullet hole in the concrete wall around a radio station in the outpost of Malaya Zemlya, where he landed with sailors on a frosty night in February 1943. But the idea of permeable sculpture is not limited only to the images of destroyed buildings and burnt tank armour. It is a symbolical window into the mysteries of matter and the depths of reason.

On September 16 2012, Novorossiysk celebrated the 30th anniversary of Tsigal's memorial to Malaya Zemlya (it had opened on September 16 1982). The defence of Malaya Zemlya lasted for 225 days, from February 4 to September 16 1943, and ended with the liberation of Novorossiysk. The idea at the core of the monument is unusual: this is not a stele, nor an obelisk, and not simply a large statue. The coastal line of the Tsemes Bay is bisected by a dynamic sharp-cornered structure - the symbolical landing craft rendered in concrete and granite. The vessel's left side is topped with a nine-figure bronze group known as “The Landing Force" - marines, infantrymen and a young woman combat medic, launching an assault. On the right side is a relief featuring some of those who for 225 days defended the plot of land that they had retaken.

The documentary and emotional elements are inseparably connected. The sculpted figures represent, in condensed form, scenes that the artist had witnessed. Tsigal reminisced how, after one battle, he made a portrait of a nurse who during the combat had been defending wounded sailors with a gun in her hands. The nurse's image became for the artist a symbol of courage and mercy, a theme repeated many times in Tsigal's graphic pieces and sculptures.

Tsigal is very sensitive to the spatial and emotional unity of the monument and the environment. The expressiveness of the Malaya Zemlya memorial is greatly amplified by the epic panorama of the Tsemes Bay. Nature itself acts as a guardian to the historical memory and testifies about the heroism of the marines, infantrymen and artillerists. The documentary effect is reinforced with the display of machine guns employed in the battle for Novorossiysk.

Inside the memorial there is a gallery dedicated to military glory. Manufactured from red Karelian granite, a staircase rises towards the sculptural composition titled “The Oath" and the huge mural mosaic with the text of the Malaya Zemlya fighters: “We retook from the enemy a plot of land near the city of Novorossiysk that we called ‘Little Land.' Although it is small, it is ours, Soviet. We shed our sweat, our blood over it, and we will never give it up to the enemy." The centrepiece of the composition is a gilded bronze capsule titled “Heart" with the names of the soldiers who died in the battle of Novorossiysk. The image of the heart became one of the central symbolical motifs in Tsigal's artwork.

 

Portrait procession

A sculpture can look gloomy, restrained, tragic - but also light, airy and immortal like poetry. Vladimir Tsigal created images that were expressive but also poetic; he felt an affinity with the works of Sergei Yesenin and Vladimir Mayakovsky. In 1972, the sculptor created a monument to Yesenin, on Yesenin Boulevard in Moscow. We feel the huge expanse of the land, and the poet captivated by the grandeur of nature. The artist proposed to create a special environment for the monument, so birches were planted on both sides of the alley. “As we pitchforked the bronze Yesenin, with the steel-wire rope still on, and the statue, after swaying once, was set in place - at that moment a young man appeared and placed a bunch of white asters at its feet. It was only then that I believed that the monument would live," he remembered.

Tsigal's portraits, including his images of Mayakovsky, Yesenin and Vsevolod Meyerhold, testify to his mastery. Tsigal also produced numerous portraits of his contemporaries such as the cosmonaut Gherman Titov, the composer Dmitry Kabalevsky, the writer Marietta Shaginyan, the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and the sculptor Oleg Komov. The composition “Mayakovsky in America", from the 1990s, is a futuristic improvisation, a monument that measures up to Mayakovsky's verse. The poet-giant steps over skyscrapers, and a volume of poetry in the poet's hand hovers over the panoramic view of them!

A sculptor who has specialized in monumental objects, Tsigal was also a skilled graphic artist and creator of sculptural forms in more modest registers. In his reliefs he addresses the eternal subjects, representing the world as penetrable to its core - a circle of life, reflections, mirrors, metamorphoses of faces, earthly wounds, the grotesque, and life and death.

The body of the Earth itself can be penetrated. In his sculpture “SOS", from the 2000s, Tsigal juxtaposed the globe and the form of a naval mine, bringing together two faces of the Earth, myth and grotesque. Held up high on the backs of three elephants and bristling with thorns, the Earth is crisscrossed with deep lines of cleavage. It is grotesque like some astral animal: already not a planet, but a living thing... The muzzles of firearms that stick out from it and the cones of ballistic rockets make it seem like some combat instrument from the world of “Star Wars". The artist associates the planet overburdened with weapons with the tragic history of the 20th century, but there is an alternative to these hypothetical “Star Wars". The artist depicts a naked boy running above the globe, joyfully welcoming the world: he is a genius and a messenger from the future, and the artist hopes that he has arrived on a rescue mission.

For more than 20 years Vladimir Tsigal worked on a series of large-scale sculptural reliefs that conveyed his innermost thoughts. Its key ideas are the implacability of time, the transience of existence, and the perpetual confrontation between forces of destruction and creation, enmity and mercy. The series unfolds like a single epic book of being. The eternal themes are represented as an integral element of the artist's biography, and self-portraiture becomes the central motif. We see the artist's face reflected in the mirror (“Self-portrait", 1990s). But this is a special, time-truncating mirror: due to his determination the artist both deals with the circumstances and expands the horizons of the space in the looking glass.

In his relief “Two Ages" (1990s) Tsigal juxtaposed two self-portraits - one of a dreamy youth, the other of a man with the difficult journey of life already behind him. The two portraits have shared memories: the symbolical hands of memory unite the two profiles. It is as if the two ages are as one, they are synchronic, existing in parallel to one another. The composition “Mercy" (1989) features abstractly rendered hands putting together two halves of a split heart. In a second, two profiles of the split heart are going to be rejoined, the single field of existence restored.

Tsigal has also revealed the great opportunities of the double portrait, and in his “Double Portrait" (2003) he depicted himself and his son Alexander. The two silhouettes overlap, as two flattened profiles partially block the full view of one another. Different varieties of tinting give the two bronze silhouettes a different luminous density, different luminosity. And a play of tonal gradations commences - the effect of a mysterious cameo, and the dialogue in the glow of the innermost recesses. The father jokingly used to call his son d'Artagnan, alluding to his contentiousness and unruly temperament, the scope of his ambitions and desire always to learn, to see, to embrace more and more.

Alexander had wanted to apply to the geological department of Moscow State University. His father said: let's go there together to find out what exams you need to take. They did. And then the decision was taken in favour of art school. Vladimir Tsigal was always abreast of his son's creative work - he used to give helpful advice but rarely praised his son, believing that Alexander had his own style and his own path to follow in art.

Viktor Tsigal, too, created his own version of a double portrait - an image of himself and his son Sergei that combines elements of lampoon and fairy tale. Grown wise from experience, the centaur (Viktor's self-portrait) which has covered an unbelievable distance hands down the relay baton to the young centaur (Sergei). The creative endeavour is to continue!

The Tsigal brothers' art is a combination of sculpture and graphic art. As students at the Surikov Art Institute, Vladimir and Viktor used to organize what might be called “artistic duels", duels with pens. They would draw images of one another on paper, or rolls of wallpaper. A superb draftsman, Vladimir nevertheless recognized his brother's superiority in this sphere (“I was somewhat shorter,/I was contentious, not as good a drawer./But, from bronze and granite/I have created monuments.")

Viktor Tsigal was ambidextrous, with an equally good command of both hands. The Drawing Studio on Starokonyushenny Lane existed for 45 years - every Thursday it would open its doors to artist friends, such as Naum Tseitlin, Viktor Tsigal, Anatoly Kokorin, Mikhail Kupreyanov, Leonid Soifertis, Max Birshtein and Fyodor Glebov. They would assemble in the artist Irina Zhdanko's spacious room in a communal apartment. They drew a naked model for 45 minutes and made quick sketches in five-minute sittings. There were contests of skills, images of models drawn from memory. Tsigal would make a task more complex, asking to draw from memory and with eyes closed.

A high skyline with a moon peeking out, a vast expanse of the sea stretching all the way to the horizon. An artist walks along the stretch of a beach which is licked by waves. A black folder with drawings in his hand, he leads a snow-white shapely greyhound, Diana, on a leash. That is the mark of Viktor Tsigal's self-portrait: he always carried such a black folder with him. His field of specialization was the graphic series centred around scenes from real life, which he created with pen, gouache, tempera, watercolour. The series were created in Koktebel and Moscow. A major series produced in the 1990s is devoted to the Arbat, the neighbourhood where Tsigal had lived since 1936: it was from there that he was evacuated to Samarkand, and it was there that he stopped on his way to the front.

The series were created during the artist's numerous journeys across both his native land country and beyond. An incomplete listing of his destinations includes Armenia, Kuban, the Nenets Autonomous Region, the Republic of Komi, the Altai (the 1950s); Azerbaijan (1965), Uzbekistan, Belgrade, Tanzania, Cuba. Four trips to Dagestan (19591961), four trips to Italy (in the 1990s).

Each journey involved a great deal of creative work, pilgrimages to different living environments, investigations of different daily routines and history, discovery of the habits and temperaments, customs and traditions of people from different cultural backgrounds. Viktor Tsigal would enter such new environments easily, open-heartedly and enthusiastically, meeting new people, and producing portraits, working in both interiors and exteriors. He was eager to capture the most characteristic scenes, festivities, work and daily life; he selected scenic landscapes and architectural landmarks. He depicted the working routines of the reindeer herders of the North, sailors of the Caspian flotilla, potters from Dagestan, and those masters of blackwood, the Makonde woodcarvers in Tanzania. Every day there were new drawings with real-life scenes and objects.

The artist would select the best pieces and refine them, either against the environment depicted or from memory. The series were not planned ahead, but rather developed in the course of the work. Tsigal used to discard everything that was redundant and put together a set of drawings that would represent, visually, a unified whole, a big picture consisting of a multitude of autonomous compositions, its separate episodes.

What makes these graphic series so compelling are the wide range of motifs that they feature and the immediacy of the scenes they capture. We open the magic black folder, and the fabric of events slides onwards, carrying us away into a world of wonders...

Few people have seen how circus performers - acrobats, gymnasts, conjurers, animal tamers - train: they do so with total abandon, polishing their techniques. Viktor Tsigal has witnessed and depicted this, in his series “Circus and Circus School", admiring their skill and artistic stamina! Few people have seen the assiduity, rhythmicality and concentration with which ceramicists from the villages of Kubachi and Balkhari work, or the dexterity with which knitters from Dagestan ply their long, thin knitting needles! Viktor Tsigal has seen and depicted all this. Three shapely silhouettes of young knitters in white ‘kerchiefs rise up, a huge vertical cliff girded with tiers of a mountain village behind them. Tsigal said that Kubachi had a special geometry - space unfolded vertically. In the pieces from the Dagestan series, the views of the mountain villages are majestic and monumental. This series is devoted to creativity as an intrinsic element of the very daily routines of the villagers of Kubachi and Balkhari.

Viktor Tsigal was able to secure a visit to a sculptor's workshop in Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania. Although drawing and photography were forbidden in such environments in Tanzania, Tsigal, as an artist, was granted the relevant authorization and captured the images of the craftsmen at work. He was astonished by their ability to work from the imagination, carving intricate multi-figure compositions from wood, without sketches. They visualized an object to make and casually, unhurriedly worked through a solid mass of material, transforming it into fanciful animals and birds, or scenes of battles between Maasai warriors and lions, or mystical encounters with the devil.

Drawing inspiration from the Makonde artisans, Tsigal created a black watercolour composition “African Sculpture" (1975). It features a highway streaming fast towards the viewer, and on both its sides the road is flanked by huge black masks and grotesque figures of mystical creatures, as giants - the keepers of the road - seem to move in a tight formation along the highway. What is this road? A road of fantasy, imagination and creative intuition, also a road of sculpture - an art form which became central to Viktor Tsigal, too.

Mirel Shaginyan painting en plein air, Ghana. The 1970s
Mirel Shaginyan painting en plein air, Ghana. The 1970s
Photograph

Africa was one of the main artistic reference points for Viktor Tsigal's family. Mirel made about 16 visits to Africa, crossing nearly the entire continent: Morocco, Algeria, Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Togo, Chad. In the series of expressive real-life scenes, Africa is presented like a cascade of pictures from every angle. Mirel was fascinated by African contrasts - contrasts in climate, natural scenery, colours, people's temperaments and ways of life. She worked on her compositions amidst the very environments she was depicting, choosing a saturated, nearly fauvist colour scheme. She brought back from her journeys not only paintings but African handicrafts as well - masks and sculptures which would later figure in picturesque still-lifes.

 

A choice of forms

Viktor Tsigal was invariably attracted by the world of material objects. In Koktebel, working on his pottery wheel, he would create exquisitely shaped “sculptural" jugs and give a round shape to mugs and plates which Mirel then painted in bright colours. The mugs were invariably gifted to his numerous friends.

Viktor also worked with metal and wire: the mirrors in magic frames with sailboats, ceiling lamps, decorative lanterns on chains and rings, sculptural candle holders with figurines representing animals, birds or residents of the ocean deeps. “The Mirror with the Carriage" (1968) is riveting and festive in appearance - the skill that went into the making of the figurines of the lady and the coachman! All its details were first crafted by hand from metal plates and assembled on a wooden board, then the assemblage of tiny pieces welded together at an artists' industrial workshop on Profsoyuznaya Street.

Continuously working with metal, Viktor Tsigal invented a unique “Tsigalian" technique of sculptural graphics. The cut-outs from metal sheets (product of onerous work, all done by hand) fascinate with their visual interplay, the overlap of two visual planes. A silhouette morphs into a 3D form and then back again into a silhouette! The effect of an elusive, semi-open volume makes the sculpture airy, translucent, permeable.

First the model of a composition has to be made with paper and glue, then comes the time for metalwork. Sergei Tsigal has reminisced that in their two-storey apartment on the Arbat, near to his father's bed there was a stool topped with a densely stuffed pillow with an anvil on it! It was on this long-suffering anvil that Vladimir Tsigal, using shears and a chisel, cut out the silhouettes of his future sculptures from metal plates.

Working with great elation, Viktor Tsigal produced “sounding legends" out of airy graphic art and black metal. One of his first “sculpturographies" was dedicated to Mikhail Svetlov and titled “Legend" (1982). “Stream Crossing at Night" (1981), “The First Tractor" (1982), “Red Guards" (1984), “Community Clean-up Day" (1985), “The Great Start" (1988), “A Dispute" (1989) followed... These pieces have a vernacular, playful element to them. But behind the seeming immediacy, the focus on genre, and polyphony of the scenes we sense something else - the frailty of being. The sculptural legends carry the artist's messages about the drama of Russian history and about people's faith in the importance of their work.

“The Great Start" was created in 1988. Four years later the artist recalled how this theme came up. He had admired people's selfless dedication as they had worked at the community clean-ups of transport infrastructure and facilities in the 1920s, the enthusiasm of this people, worn out by war and revolution. “The idea: starved people bringing the transport infrastructure and facilities back to life after a war and period of devastation. Yes! On their shoulders! The hyperbole. They lift a steam train and carry it like the symbol of the country's transport... I want to show that people are not caving in under the weight of their burden. Despite the unbelievable strain, they walk quickly, and work with inspiration and faith in the necessity of what they are doing."

The sculpture “A Dispute" (1989) combines irony with legend. We see a person who happens to witness a dispute between three great gods, Christ, Buddha and the great Maasai deity. What the dispute is about? Perhaps they discuss the idea that Gods Created People and people created gods. Human beings are small but their thoughts are equal in scale to galactic orbits.

In his numerous illustrations for children's books Viktor Tsigal created many artful animal images. In Vladimir Mayakovsky's “On Every New Page - An Elephant or a Lioness", animals look endearingly good-natured and caring. Sergei Tsigal says that his father had a very good knowledge and memory of the anatomy of all animals. He was able, without consulting reference books, to draw any animal's skeleton, build up its muscles, accurately convey its movements and temperament. And he could draw horses from memory, with his eyes closed!

 

The sons also rise

Sergei Tsigal inherited from his father his loyalty to the graphic arts, as well as his passion for travel and for the discovery of nature with its huge variety of shapes and forms. Unlike his father, that unceasing draftsman, Sergei chose a different sphere - the artistry of etching techniques.

Sergei graduated from the geography faculty of Moscow State University, having specialized in ichthyology, and took part in marine research expeditions. Concurrently he pursued the career of an applied artist, creating original jewellery from metal. He joined the youth section of the Moscow section of the Union of Artists. As his father said, an artist should receive a training in art, and although a second university degree was then looked upon as an oddity, Sergei started studying at, and eventually graduated from the Stroganov School of Arts and Industry in Moscow. Sergei's artwork has undoubtedly been “marked" by what he learnt at university: he represents insects as conquerors of the highest peaks! The peaks of wondrous flower heads!

Sergei Tsigal's graphic improvisations are distinguished by their riveting visual elements and original futuristic animal art. He creates his graphic pieces using the techniques of futurist art. Figures cross with each other, see-through figures and visual planes overlapping one another. A rotating composition, when different narratives unfold in each of the four planes of a sheet, produced the effect of four horizons, a technique that was often used by David Burliuk in his paintings.

Every image features a certain group of animals. The pantomime of flamingos and ostriches is superb. The communities of monkeys, dogs and tigers are engrossing. The stylish colour schemes of the assemblies of frogs are kaleidoscopic. The silhouettes of animals weave themselves into graphic rebuses, arabesques and conglomerates of fluid forms, but every silhouette is distinct.

Sergei has its own inimitable sprint-animalism, a dynamics of shape-o-twirls, shape-o-rhythms. These are the rhythms of 21st century civilization! But how can that be possible! This is animal art, after all! Or is it metaphor-art?

For centuries, animals have accompanied and helped the human race. As intermediaries, they have participated in the slow and delicate process of the formation of civilizations. It is common knowledge that animal images were used as symbols in ancient cults, as well as that they indicate time, calendar cycles.

Sergei's etchings feature remarkable scenes. In his series “An Incident in Jerusalem" (2000-2009) greyhounds and cats carefully study, examine and carry fragments of broken columns of different formats and orders off somewhere. A she-cat atop a column has “installed herself" as a mini-monument, while the persistent greyhounds move up the slippery column shaft as they try to reach her.

Or look at another motif: fragments of a column rise towards the heavens, along with those same greyhounds.

There is also animal folklore, or “graphic parables". A grasshopper has a philosophical discourse with two marsh frogs. She-cats, like little birds, make themselves comfortable on long delicate branches. Frogs carry an extremely long boa constrictor, in an allusion to the popular lubok print “The Mice Are Burying the Cat". But they are dragging him in two different directions! If they go on like that, they will never be able to deliver the snake anywhere! The formats are drawn-out vertical and drawn-out horizontal lines, the processions carnivalesque.

In the charming composition “Butterflies" (1997) we see a fairy-tale ecosystem, an extraordinary evolution that has turned butterflies into super-butterflies, while horses, camels and donkeys promenade below, smaller than their light-winged company. The triptych “Climbing Mount Kazbek" (2008) is an image of a difficult ascent of domestic animals, heavily laden, their ascent going around in a circle, a spiral, in repetition. The start and the end of the cycle are marked by the contour of a red horse.

Alexander Tsigal graduated from the Stroganov School of Art and Industry in 1971; after military service, he honed his professional skills for four years at the famous House of Arts, the Dom tvorchestva, in Dzintari. Working there was a dream for artists from all corners of the Soviet Union - from Moscow and Leningrad, Armenia and Georgia, Kazakhstan and Central Asia. Artists of different generations worked side by side; ceramicists and sculptors shared professional tips.

At Dzintari Alexander produced several chamotte compositions centred around the environment and rhythms of small-town life: fragments of scenic streets, a row of houses, panoramic views of rooftops, the quietness of courtyards, while the artist sees a plethora of cultural activities going on, concerts, theatrical productions and musical performances. At Dzintari there was little time for reflection, one had to do, to make.

Alexander recollects his first pilgrimage to Dzintari: “I was then a young artist who reached the House of Arts in Dzintari a week later than scheduled. And there were excellent artists, true artists working there then. They were very serious people, with an understanding of art totally different from the one that was generally accepted. And I had to do something quickly, to show that I too could produce something; frightened, I cobbled together several pieces, including ‘The Little Man with a Big Heart'. This work proved a milestone. After [Andrei] Sakharov's death I presented it to Yelena Bonner, and she said right away: ‘It's Sakharov' - although I didn't have Sakharov in mind: I was portraying a little man with a big heart."

“The Little Man with a Big Heart" (bronze, ruby glass, granite, 1974) is a superb piece of work. Tsigal created the image of someone who is a bit naive, trustful and absolutely honest.

Everyone can see the ruby heart because the man is standing in front of an X-ray machine! The ruby heart and the revealing screen are given to the piece's hero for a long life. (There are currently plans afoot to overhaul the building housing the office of Russia's Human Rights Ombudsman, the former Kamensky mansion on Smolensky Boulevard, including the installation, in the former mansion's courtyard, of a 2.2-meter-high statue of the “Little Man".)

An air of mystery, play and enigma hovers over Alexander's sculptures. The statue “Adam and Eve" (bronze, granite, 2014) looks like a cosmogonic image of the universe. The figures rear up in the shadow of the tree of knowledge, Adam a flat silhouette, while Eve's figure is material and three-dimensional. The pyramidal composition rests on a winged bull, in which the four symbols of the Evangelists are inextricably combined. Epic rhythms predominate: the winged bull evokes the winged Lumasi, the perpetual guards at the gates of the fortresses of the Assyrian kings.

The artist creates his own world of theatricality in works such as “Wooden Hobby Horses" (bronze, granite, 1990s), “A Little Wooden Ship" (bronze, 1990s), “Maslenitsa (Shrovetide)" (bronze, marble, 1992), “Fate" (bronze, granite, 2009). What is the subject of “Wooden Hobby Horses"? A duel between a Russian warrior and a Scandinavian knight, who fight wielding wooden swords and riding wooden hobby horses on little wheels. Is this confrontation or play? Let's call it an athletic contest, a mock tournament during festivities. “A Little Wooden Ship" is small, resembling the shell of a magic nut, and has little wheels, too. Aboard the ship are Vikings and a Russian warrior, and for the team to reach the faraway countries and shores they seek, the members of this motley crew must work together. The sculptural compositions are cohesive and close. Here comes “Fate"... A giant swims on a furious dragon, carrying on his shoulder a traveller in a sailboat, perhaps a paraphrase of the classic myth of St. Christopher.

Alexander Tsigal has pioneered sculptures on biblical themes. He is confident that one should make objects that do not lose their relevance over time; only then will they have a long life. In 1989, in Koktebel, he created 10 plasticine compositions from carcasses of cropping wire. He put them in the boot of a car and brought them to Moscow, where he showed the works to his father and to Viktor Tsigal. Viktor, who was usually sceptical towards religious motifs in contemporary art, approved the pieces and even paid for their casting in bronze.

The Gospel's characters featured in the series titled “Prayer" are mediated images treated in a non-canonical fashion, in the sculptor's signature style. But they are governed by their own law, serious and forbearing. Each image is loaded with symbolism. “John Chrysostom" (bronze, granite, 1989) is delicate and vulnerable, his lips clasped together. For two years he lived in an isolated cave, not saying a word. And the compressed energy of silence was transformed into gems of preaching and public speaking.

“John the Baptist" (bronze, granite, 1991) rides high on a turtle, wary of scorching the soles of his feet on the sand of the desert. “Archangel Gabriel Hurries with the Good News", not on booming wings but atop a bronze horse (bronze, 1991-1992). “Archangel Michael Trampling the Devil Underfoot" (bronze, granite, 1989) is a variation on Simeon Ushakov's 17th century icon from the Kremlin, its figure standing on the vanquished devil's shadow, flattened and pressed into the ground: but the devil, although vanquished, cannot be exterminated. Looking festive and regal, the icon “Our Lady of Vladimir" (1988) is a relief made of showy, deep-toned materials - copper, electrotyping, silver, gold, enamel. Many pieces from the “Prayer" series were bought by collectors from Russia and Europe.

In 1994, Alexander Tsigal was commissioned by the state to create a monumental statue of St. George, to be mounted near the cupola of the Kremlin Senate. Alexander produced some sketches, which were approved by the client. He showed them to his father, and father and son decided to work together.

The architect Matvei Kazakov, on the order of Empress Catherine II, had built the Senate within the grounds of the Moscow Kremlin. The building's centrepiece, the Yekaterininsky Hall, was crowned with a huge cupola, which was decorated with a statue of St. George. During the invasion of Napoleon's troops, the statue disappeared.

Alexander Tsigal recreated it using surviving images. In 1995 the statue was cast in bronze in Germany and now once again hovers high in the air, above the Senate's cupola. The following year, another statue produced by Alexander Tsigal and his father, titled “Justice", was installed in the building of Russia's Supreme Court. Tsigal also contributed to the project of restoration of sculptures for the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow: he produced the figures of the angels, originally created by Peter Clodt, which appear above the gate of the eastern entrance.

And then something unexpected. An unusual bronze statue of a dog, installed in a metro station, no less! Not just in the metro, but close to the turnstiles past which streams of people flow endlessly! And everybody touches the dog's nose, which, it is believed, brings good luck. This unusual statue, “Sympathy", was unveiled on February 17 2007 in an underground walkway in Mendeleyevskaya metro station. On a low pedestal, almost at floor level, there is a bronze dog with the inscription on its postament: “Sympathy. Dedicated to the humane treatment of stray animals." This informal monument in the metro became a Tsigal family project, in which Alexander engaged Sergei, and secured the assistance of Viktor Yefimovich and Vladimir Yefimovich, too (the architect Andrei Nalich and designer Pyotr Nalich also participated).

The monument was installed six years after a dramatic event had taken place on that spot. A stray dog called “Malchik" (Boy) had lived for several years in the underground walkway leading to the Mendeleyevskaya station, endearing himself to local residents and the ladies who worked in kiosks alike. The incident happened in December 2001, when a dog breeder, Yuliana Romanova, walked into the passage with her Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The dogs got into a fight, the owner of the area's retail pavilions called Mamuka tried to separate them, but Yuliana quickly pulled a knife out of her bag and stabbed Malchik dead.

On January 17 2002 Izvestia newspaper ran a piece written by the journalist and animal rights campaigner Irina Ozernaya, “They Killed Malchik. A Tragedy in the Moscow Metro". Other news outlets covered the incident too, attracting public attention. Ozernaya and the defence lawyer Yekaterina Polyakova initiated a criminal case against Romanova, while a group of animal rights campaigners and cultural figures sent letters to the country's leaders demanding that she be punished. She had criminal proceedings initiated against her on suspicion of cruelty to animals and was compulsorily committed to a mental hospital for a year.

Ozernaya, with the help of a group of Variety Artists and theatre figures, started raising funds for a monument, setting up a board of trustees with the singer Yelena Kamburova at its head which included a whole host of famous cultural figures. When the statue was finished, there was a gala opening attended by large crowds and many press, including 16 television channels, with participants including Kamburova, Sergei Yursky, Lyudmila Kasatkina, Andrei Makarevich, Veniamin Smekhov, Oleg Anofriev and Mikhail Shirvindt. This low-key monument has become famous, with Alexander Tsigal giving numerous interviews and appearing as a guest on TV shows. The Alliance of Moscow Sculptors has called Tsigal's work one of the best works of 2007.

Alexander Tsigal's exhibition “Targets", hosted in the summer of 2017 at the office of the historical and civil rights society “Memorial" in Moscow, was poignant and symbolic. It was a comprehensive project covering a wide spectrum of Tsigal's artwork: portraits, compositions, memorial monuments, and memorial signs. The project represented, in condensed form, the central idea of his artwork.

 

Continuing engagements

In history, productive and destructive forces engage in a duel. Time targets a human being, who, unbeknownst to himself, becomes a target. Engaging with a classical narrative of European art as he worked on his statue of St. Sebastian, Alexander Tsigal experienced the ruinous inevitability of “being a target". The artist understood that many individuals had also turned out to be “targets", among them Nikolai Gumilev, Alexander Grin, Osip Mandelstam, Daniil Kharms, Sergei Yesenin. Alexander Tsigal has portrayed these people. The dramatic intensity of the portraits is there in the invisible arrows sweeping along noiselessly, conveyed by their very visual idiom, which is radical.

Working on his “St. Sebastian" (2014), Alexander Tsigal for the first time used a flat form, a saw-cut method, in which the figure seems to be cut out from a board in the form of a silhouette. A saw-cut is the ideal surface of a target, but it is also a shield, a barrier, a defence. The effect of the “flat" St. Sebastian is paradoxical: arrows may pierce him, but he looks unassailable because the “saw- cut" protects the body.

Mandelstam's portrait (2016) is in black metal, a juxtaposition of two silhouettes, profile and full face, like on the old prisoner custody photographs from the Stalin era. The facial features are almost indiscernible against the black background, although we can imagine the look in the eyes. Juxtaposition is a form of a multi-fold amplification. The black flat profile cuts the space, the man overcomes stiffness, and reacts against the invisible arrows.

In contrast to the all-absorbing black metal in the Mandelstam portrait, the “calvary" portrait of Daniil Kharms (2000) is made of shining brass polished into a mirror-like finish. Walking closer to the object, we see our reflection in the blinding polished surface, and are riveted to it, as if caught by a spell. It haunts us in each of the four planes. How can you get rid of the reflection? Kharms's face is only a flat profile. And what about the full face? It is forced out and replaced with the figure of a grotesque runner. The runner is in shock, the psychological shock of a person who has nowhere to hide. He cannot escape persecution. In order to avoid execution by firing squad, Kharms simulated madness. The military tribunal committed him to a mental hospital, where he died on February 2 1942 during the siege of Leningrad.

Alexander Grin's portrait is equally tragic (painted bronze, granite, 1970-1999). The figure is flattened, the bronze painted in a sacral white colour. He addresses us, hesitantly stretching out his hand for a handshake. Grin died in 1932 in Stary Krim from starvation and sickness. His works were no longer published, and the Writers' Union had turned down his request for a pension.

There are two ages in the image of Nikolai Gumilev (bronze, veined marble, black iron, 1989). Two halves of the face are contrasted: he is both a soldier and a poet. On his right shoulder, civilian clothes; on his left, a military uniform and two Crosses of St. George for distinguished service as the head of a cavalry reconnaissance unit. He is older - and he is younger. Gumilev himself said that he always felt like a young fellow of 14.

Alexander and Sergei Tsigal at the opening of the monument “Sympathy”, February 17 2007
Alexander and Sergei Tsigal at the opening of the monument “Sympathy”, February 17 2007
Underground walkway near Mendeleyevskaya metro station. Photograph

Alexander has also developed a totally new form, graphic memorial signs to be embedded in the pavement. Such signs, as featured at the “Targets" show, can produce as strong an impact as a 3D sculpture. Two projects especially grabbed the attention: the panel memorial devoted to Boris Nemtsov and the sign remembering Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova.

As its creators envision it, the panel picture (260 by 430 cm) is to be installed at the place of Boris Nemtsov's assassination on the Moskvoretsky Bridge in central Moscow. Composed of grey rocks, the picture should be fitted flush with the sidewalk. The silhouette and the inscription, “Boris Nemtsov was killed on this spot on January 27 2015", are to be manufactured from bronze and incorporated into the stone surface. The abstract image of a target, made of dark-grey granite, is to be incorporated using the pietra dura technique.

The memorial sign honouring the human rights activists Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova is expected to be installed at a distance of several meters from the location of their assassination in 2009, which took place on Prechistenka Street (near the building of the White Palace, a 17th century architectural landmark). The silhouettes of a man and a woman are on the sidewalk: one, a transparent, barely traced contour, symbolizes Markelov; the other, in bronze, is that of Baburova.

Another original design is the hallmark of the memorial sign devoted to the “Bulldozer Exhibition" in 1974. The small-scale figures of the artists with their paintings are rendered with transparent acrylic paints: these figures are transparent, incorporeal, permeable and defenceless in the face of the huge bulldozer moving on them.

For more than 20 years, from 1991 to 2012, Vladimir Tsigal ran the Sculpture Workshop that he set up under the aegis of the Academy of Arts, and in 2013 Vladimir's son Alexander Tsigal took over control of it. In such a way Vladimir Tsigal created an entire art movement: over that period more than 50 students graduated from the Tsigal school, which has now become an important cultural centre. Most of the students of Vladimir and Alexander Tsigal have gone on to become well-known artists, acclaimed sculptors, and leading figures in the contemporary art scene.

Throughout their varied careers, the Tsigal dynasty of artists has been closely connected with the Academy of Arts. Vladimir Yefimovich and Viktor Yefimovich were full members of that body, while Alexander Tsigal is a member of the Academy's presidium and academic secretary of the sculpture section. Such involvement is only natural. If the history of the Academy of Arts represents the continuity of Russian culture in macrocosm, the Tsigal dynasty, and those like it, illustrates something of its developing character in miniature.

АЛЕКСАНДР ЦИГАЛЬ в соавторстве с ВЛАДИМИРОМ ЦИГАЛЕМ. Статуя Георгия Победоносца на куполе здания Сената в Московском Кремле. 1995
ALEXANDER TSIGAL in cooperation with VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Statue of St. George on the Cupola of the Kremlin Senate Building. 1995
ALEXANDER TSIGAL in cooperation with VLADIMIR TSIGAL
Statue of St. George on the Cupola of the Kremlin Senate Building. 1995
Bronze, casting. 350 × 300 × 160 cm

Illustrations

Vladimir Tsigal. Under the Koldun (Warlock) Mountain. 1943
Vladimir Tsigal. Under the Koldun (Warlock) Mountain. 1943
Ink on paper, brush
Vladimir Tsigal working on the portrait of Dmitry Karbyshev. 1966
Vladimir Tsigal working on the portrait of Dmitry Karbyshev. 1966
Photograph
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Monument to the Hero of the Soviet Union Lieutenant General Dmitry Karbyshev. 1961
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Monument to the Hero of the Soviet Union Lieutenant General Dmitry Karbyshev. 1961
Marble. Height 385 cm. Architect Nikolai Kovalchuk. Mauthausen, Austria. Photograph
At the opening ceremony of the “Malaya Zemlya” memorial Novorossiysk. 1982
At the opening ceremony of the “Malaya Zemlya” memorial Novorossiysk. 1982
Photograph
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. “Malaya Zemlya” Monument. 1982
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. “Malaya Zemlya” Monument. 1982
Architects Yakov Belopolsky, Roman Kananin, Vladimir Khavin. Novorossiysk
Vladimir Tsigal after landing operations in Malaya Zemlya. 1943
Vladimir Tsigal after landing operations in Malaya Zemlya. 1943
Battlefield photograph
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. The Paratrooper Zhora Karpin 1943
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. The Paratrooper Zhora Karpin. 1943
From the wartime album. Ink on paper, pen
Viktor Tsigal. Three Friends. 1943–1945
Viktor Tsigal. Three Friends. 1943-1945
From the “Wartime Sketches” series, the wartime album. Pencil on paper
Viktor Tsigal. On the Frontline Roadway. 1943–1945
Viktor Tsigal. On the Frontline Roadway. 1943-1945
From the “Wartime Sketches” series, the wartime album. Pencil, black watercolour on paper
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. The Paratrooper O. Dzhayani. 1943
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. The Paratrooper O. Dzhayani. 1943
From the wartime album. Ink on paper, pen
Viktor Tsigal. Sergeant of the Guard N. Sviridov. 1943–1945
Viktor Tsigal. Sergeant of the Guard N. Sviridov. 1943-1945
From the “Wartime Sketches” series, the wartime album. Pencil on paper
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Monument to the Hero of the Soviet Union Richard Sorge. 1981
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Monument to the Hero of the Soviet Union Richard Sorge. 1981
Bronze, granite. Height 460 cm. Architects Rasim Aliev, Leonid Pavlov, Yury Dubov. Baku. Photograph
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Railway Embankment. 1943
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Railway Embankment. 1943
Ink on paper
Viktor Tsigal. The Great Start. 1988
Viktor Tsigal. The Great Start. 1988
Black metal. 151 × 31 × 54 cm
Viktor Tsigal. The First Tractor. 1982
Viktor Tsigal. The First Tractor. 1982
Metal. 117 × 31 × 54 cm. Kherson Art Museum
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. At the Port. Novorossiysk. 1943
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. At the Port. Novorossiysk. 1943
Pencil on paper
Viktor Tsigal. 1943–1944
Viktor Tsigal. 1943-1944
Battlefield photograph
MIREL SHAGINYAN. Guinea. Children and Women by the Ocean. 1960
MIREL SHAGINYAN. Guinea. Children and Women by the Ocean. 1960
Tempera on cardboard. 97 × 64 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Knitters of the Kubachi Village. From the “Dagestan” series. 1959–1961
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Knitters of the Kubachi Village. From the “Dagestan” series. 1959-1961
Tempera on paper. 106.5 × 55.7 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Female Potter from the Balkhari village. From the “Dagestan” series. 1959–1961
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Female Potter from the Balkhari village. From the “Dagestan” series. 1959-1961
Tempera on paper. 75 × 85 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Italian Landscape. 1990
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Italian Landscape. 1990
Watercolour on paper. 35 x 47 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Mirel. 1954
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Mirel. 1954
Oil on canvas. 35 × 50 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Alexander Grin. 1999
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Alexander Grin. 1999
Painted bronze, granite. 114 × 30 × 30 cm. Author’s copy
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Monument to Sergei Yesenin. 1972
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Monument to Sergei Yesenin. 1972
Bronze. Height 350 cm. Moscow. Architects Yury Yurov, Sergei Vakhtangov. Photograph
In Henry Moore’s studio, from left: Oleg Komov, Henry Moore, Vladimir Tsigal, Yury Chernov. 1981
In Henry Moore’s studio, from left: Oleg Komov, Henry Moore, Vladimir Tsigal, Yury Chernov. 1981
Photograph
Viktor Tsigal in the studio in his apartment on the Arbat. 1991
Viktor Tsigal in the studio in his apartment on the Arbat. 1991
Photograph
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Double Portrait. 2003
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. Double Portrait. 2003
Bronze. 35 × 30 × 20 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Seryozha. Spring at Koktebel. 1956
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Seryozha. Spring at Koktebel. 1956
Oil on canvas. 66 × 90 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Self-portrait with Diana. 1984
VIKTOR TSIGAL. Self-portrait with Diana. 1984
Oil on canvas. 108 × 70 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
VIKTOR TSIGAL. A Family of Acrobats. 1970–1975
VIKTOR TSIGAL. A Family of Acrobats. 1970-1975
From the “Circus and Circus School” series. Tempera on paper. 58 × 84 cm
VIKTOR TSIGAL. A Circus Horse. 1977
VIKTOR TSIGAL. A Circus Horse. 1977
Iron, brass. 37 × 65 × 70 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. The Spy. 2003
VLADIMIR TSIGAL. The Spy. 2003
Bronze. 52 × 31 × 19 cm. Property of the artistʼs family
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Nikolai Gumilev. 1989
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Nikolai Gumilev. 1989
Bronze, veined marble. 62 × 26 × 18 cm. Tretyakov Gallery
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Mandelstam. 2016
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Mandelstam. 2016
Metal. 60 × 40 × 40 cm. Authorʼs copy
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Adam and Eve. 2014
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Adam and Eve. 2014
From the “Prayer” series. Bronze, granite. 90 × 50 × 30 cm. Authorʼs copy
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Wooden Hobby Horses. 1990
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Wooden Hobby Horses. 1990
Bronze, granite. 60 × 56 × 21 cm. Authorʼs copy
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. John Chrysostom. 1989
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. John Chrysostom. 1989
Bronze, granite. 51 × 15 × 15 cm. In two versions: the authorʼs copy; private collection
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Boris and Gleb Riding Horses - The First Russian Saints. 1989
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Boris and Gleb Riding Horses - The First Russian Saints. 1989
From the "Prayer" series. Bronze, granite. 50 × 19 × 40 cm. Six versions: two authorʼs copies; four in private collections
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Our Lady of Vladimir. 1988. From the “Prayer” series
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Our Lady of Vladimir. 1988
From the “Prayer” series. Relief in icon case. Copper, galvanic, silver, gold, enamel, wood. 42 × 30 × 5 cm. Authorʼs copy
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Fate. 1997
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Fate. 1997
Bronze, granite. 70 × 50 × 30 cm. Authorʼs copy
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. The Little Man with a Big Heart. 1974
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. The Little Man with a Big Heart. 1974
Bronze, ruby glass, granite. 36 × 10 × 10 cm. Seven versions: two authorʼs copies, five in private collections
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. St. Sebastian. 2014
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. St. Sebastian. 2014
From the “Targets” series. Bronze, granite, iron. 72 × 27 × 36 cm. Authorʼs copy
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Daniil Kharms. 2000
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Daniil Kharms. 2000
Polished brass, granite. 70 × 40 × 40 cm. Authorʼs copy
SERGEI TSIGAL. Birds and Motorcycles. 2008
SERGEI TSIGAL. Birds and Motorcycles. 2008
Mixed media technique. 61 × 86 cm. Property of the artist
SERGEI TSIGAL. Cats. 2008
SERGEI TSIGAL. Cats. 2008
Mixed media technique. 61 x 86 cm. Property of the artist
SERGEI TSIGAL. From “An Incident in Jerusalem” series. 2000–2009
SERGEI TSIGAL. From “An Incident in Jerusalem” series. 2000-2009
Etching. Etched line, chemical milling, aquatint, embossing. 27 × 88 cm. Property of the artist
SERGEI TSIGAL. Triptych “Climbing Mount Kazbek”. 2008
SERGEI TSIGAL. Triptych “Climbing Mount Kazbek”. 2008
Right part. Mixed media technique. 61 × 86 cm. Property of the artist
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Memorial to the Actress Lyubov Polishchuk. 2010
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Memorial to the Actress Lyubov Polishchuk. 2010
Bohemian crystal glass, granite. Height (with column) 230 cm. Troyekurovskoye Cemetery, Moscow
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Memorial Plaque to the People’s Artist of the USSR, Academician Dmitry Shmarinov. 2015
ALEXANDER TSIGAL. Memorial Plaque to the People’s Artist of the USSR, Academician Dmitry Shmarinov. 2015
Bronze. Architects Yevgeny Polyantsev, Vadim Polyantsev. Begovaya Street 7, Moscow

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