Okraina Vitebska (Outskirts of Vitebsk; 1927), from Graviury na dereve (Woodcuts), by I. Ioffe and E. Gollervakh (Leningrad, 1928). (YIVO)

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Iudovin, Solomon Borisovich

(1892–1954), artist. Solomon Iudovin (or in Yiddish, Yudovin) was born in the village of Beshenkovichi near Vitebsk, into a family of artisans. His first art teacher, beginning in 1906, was Yehudah Pen. In 1910 Iudovin moved to Saint Petersburg, where he studied initially at the School of the Society for Encouragement of Art, and then in 1911–1913 with Mstislav Dobujinsky, one of Chagall’s first teachers. He matured as an artist during the Russian Revolution, and spent the years 1918–1923 in Vitebsk, at that time an important center for the Russian avant-garde.

Untitled. Solomon Iudovin. Woodcut. (Moldovan Family Collection)

Unlike several other Russian Jewish artists of that period, notably Marc Chagall and El Lissitzky, Iudovin did not embrace modernism but remained a figurative, realistic artist throughout his life. He is considered a technically accomplished, although not innovative, graphic artist who excelled in wood engraving and book illustration. Between 1920 and 1940, most of his work was devoted to Jewish themes, an interest inspired by his participation in the 1912–1914 An-ski ethnographic expedition to Ukraine as a photographer and artist.

In 1920, Iudovin and M. Malkin published the album Yidisher Folks-Ornament (Jewish Folk Ornament), which included 26 linocuts based on his earlier copies of Jewish folk art. These prints are most likely the earliest surviving examples of Iudovin’s art. Between 1921 and 1940, he worked intermittently on a series of Jewish scenes that he later called Byloe (Bygone Days). These included scenes of daily life, synagogues, Jewish figures, and city views, mainly of Vitebsk. Between 1924 and 1941 Iudovin also worked on a new series of Evreiskie Narodnye Ornamenty (Jewish Folk Ornament), which was never published. Done in a free, imaginative spirit, these prints stand out from the rest of his oeuvre. In the 1930s Iudovin took up book illustrations, and in the late 1930s he started to portray the influence of communism on Soviet Jewry in the style of Socialist Realism.

Iudovin’s move to Leningrad in 1923 opened his eyes to non-Jewish subjects and themes. His later work includes, among others, the print series Oborona Petrograda (Defense of Petrograd; 1933), Novostroikii Belorussii (New Building in Belorussia; 1936), and Leningrad v dni velikoi otechestvennoi voiny (Leningrad in the Days of World War II; 1942–1949). A comprehensive collection of Iudovin’s Jewish artwork is kept at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.

Suggested Reading

Ruth Apter-Gabriel, Yetsirato ha-yehudit shel Shelomoh Yudovin, 1892–1954: Me-Omanut ‘amamit le-re’alizm sotsyalisti (The Jewish Art of Solomon Yudovin, 1892–1954: From Folk Art to Socialist Realism) (Jerusalem, 1991), exhibition catalog, The Israel Museum, in Hebrew and English; Valentin Iakovlevich Brodskii and Anna Markovna Zemtsova, Solomon Borisovich Iudovin (Leningrad, 1962), in Russian.

YIVO Archival Resources

RG 101, Art and Artifacts, Collection, 18th c.-1980s.