Vasilii Iakovlevich Sitnikov
Vasilii Sitnikov, USSR Artist, icon collector.
Sitnikov, Vasilii was born in 1915 in the town of Lebedian’-onDon. Son of a wealthy peasant who lost everything during the Civil War and the collectivization campaign.
Graduated from a school of naval mechanics, 1934. Studied and taught art.
Began collecting Russian icons from the age of 13. His magnificent collection is now at the Moscow Rublev Museum. Began painting at an early age.
Arrested, 1941, after being denounced by his neighbours. Sent to the notorious Kazan’ psychiatric hospital. Released, 1947. Lived a very unconventional lifestyle.
Opened a private art school and attracted hundreds of pupils. The Sitnikov school also attracted the attention of the Committee for State Security. In 1959, became a famous, established artist.
At an opening of an exhibition, when the Minister of Culture, Mikhailov, asked him to explain an abstract picture, he told him in front of a crowd, ‘Why explain the meaning of art to a donkey? The donkey does not need art.’ He was arrested. The cultural authorities were happy to let him leave the country when his pupils sent him an invitation to Israel and a visa. Lived in an Austrian mountain village for 5 years as a recluse, during which time he painted the huge masterpiece Glory to Doctor Mayer, a caricature on the Germans and Russians.
In 1981, left Austria for New York. Received a great amount of attention from his pupils and the press.