Road to Novotroitsk, a massive lithograph with
paper depicting a Soviet landscape and roadway, by graphic
artist Valentin Alekseevich Novichenko, circa 1980s-90s, 40
x 50 cm, good condition.
Despite the laconic and stern landscape that pictures
high power lines and trucks, the painting is dominated by
warm ochre tones. The mountains of ochre color remind that
brown iron ores have been found here, the unique source of
nickel, titanium and other scarce metals, as well as the
ochre pigment from which the paints are made. The famous
geologist Fersman called these lands the "True Pearl of the
This landscape is a continuation of the industrial theme.
one side, everything is subordinated to one goal: the road
is leading to Novotroitsk, the location of one of the
largest groups of metallurgical enterprises in the country.
city was built specifically for its workers, and it was
there that the future artist Novichenko was born into a
of a metallurgical worker. Thus from the other point of
Novichenko this is the road home, back to his childhood.
warm colors afford lyricism to the stern landscape.
The texture of the gouache, on top of the color, imbues the
scene with additional life. The viewer feels much closer to
the rolling hills than to the distant and relatively flat
power lines. By crafting the landscape in layers - the
rendered with the thickest paint - there a sense of depth
The paintings is in overall good condition. There are some
minor signs of wear, including slight discoloration of the
paper around the white border (particularly at the top and
bottom right of the piece). The paper itself is mildly worn
with a small nick in the middle of the larger cloud on the
right. The work has otherwise kept up well, and if
these slight imperfections add further character to the
industrial scene. The artist has written the name of the
painting, "Road to Novotroitsk", at the bottom left corner.
********About the Author********
Valentin Alekseevich Novichenko (1927-2010) is a well-known
graphic artist from the Urals. He was born into a working-
class family. His childhood impressions of industry and the
construction of the Orsk Metallurgical Kombinat (group of
factories) deeply affected his art.
He participated in the Patriotic War and then graduated
the Sverdlovsk Art School, which he attended from 1956-61.
In 1966 he became a member of the Trade Union of Artists of
the USSR and a permanent member of all-Union exhibitions.
From 1953-63 he worked as a decorator at the Uralkhimmash
and Uralmash, both of which were gigantic powerhouses of
Soviet industry that played an extremely important role in
the development of the industrial might of the Soviet Union
as well as its defense during the Great Patriotic War. They
also played major role in the development of the city of
Yekaterinburg (then Sverdlovsk) and the entire Ural Region.
Thanks to Novichenko's art, labor at the factory was
aestheticized and glorified. It appeared then that people
will always get up early in the morning, and by the factory
siren, head to work their shift. They believed that they
lead a decent life - a life worthy of being the subject of
art, i.e. being reflected in paintings and cinematography.
The lithographs by the artist are a memory of the departing
character of an entire civilization. The representation of
labor in the art of Socialist Realism and the themes of
"labor", "production" and "the worker" had become leading
and dominant over all other subjects and themes. In the art
of the 1930s-50s, the portraits of people dominate, whereas
the sources of power - such as hydroelectric dams, blast
furnaces, electric power lines - serve only as a background
for their laborial heroism. Artist Novichenko turned it
upside down: his inanimate objects are far more interesting
than the people and whatever they are doing. He was one of
the first to create a tendency that would be well
established in the industrial Socialist Art of 1970s-80s:
the hero and background change places. The people are
serving the giant objects; they are just a part of the
industrial process. This was due to the fact that the
portrait of the original hero of Socialist Realism was
getting ideologically worn out. Novichenko is presenting a
new industrial still nature: giant cones, cylinders, and
gears are distributed on a plain as if in paintings by
CÚzanne, where the household items and fruits attract
attention primarily by the play of their forms.
After the death of the artist in 2010, a number of his
exhibitions have opened in his native Ural and Moscow, and
well known collectors are now trying to acquire his works.
As clearly evident from his correspondences with colleagues
that is now kept in a private collection, Novichenko had a
difficult personality. He never tried to sell his works to
collectors or earn good favors from the bureaucrats
arts; he also refused to sell his painting to the managing
committees of exhibitions on their terms. He was a tireless
innovator, always in search of new materials and
and this consumed his entire life. His lithographs on metal
or so-called "poly etching graphics" that employed various
techniques and metal cutting instruments invented by him,
and his unusually large lithographs, make his art truly
unique and of enduring value.