Herald of

A non-classical classic, a look at the art of S. Erzya (1876–1959) from the 21 st century

Розенберг Н.А.


For the first time in Russian art history, the article attempts to show the integrity of the art of the Russian-Argentine sculptor S. Erzya on the basis of an art history analysis of his most famous works created in Italy, Russia and Argentina. The features of his personal and creative development are revealed in the context of socio-cultural events, which were distinguished by a stormy, sometimes catastrophic nature. The youthful ideals of Tolstoyism in the mind of a mature master acquire the features of a worldview that asserts the priority of the ideals of moral and spiritual perfection, the devotion to which was almost invariably paid with the price of life. A documentary confirmation of Erziʼs words is given in the entry of his secretary, L. Orsetti. People who knew Erza intimately in Italy, Russia, and Argentina also wrote about their commitment to these ideals. The theme of sacrifice, the suffering path unites both his biblical works and things of revolutionary themes. Their success is described in the article not only on the basis of periodicals, but also for the first time with the involvement of exhibition catalogues. In Argentina, Erzya created monumental portraits of the spiritual leaders of mankind – these portraits by the sculptor himself were collected in a special exhibition in his house: Moses, Beethoven, Tolstoy, N. Gogol. The motives of beauty and birth, the continuation of the human race are embodied by Erzya in the famous female images Nude, Eve, Motherhood, Dance. The plastic beauty and the mystery of the transformation of the female body fascinated the audience at the exhibitions of the sculptor's works and were evidence of the change in his somatic perception in Argentina. Thus, in the art of Erzi in Argentina, the intuition and emotional supernormality inherent in the cultural consciousness of Latin Americans are manifested. The sculptor's attitude to the material he chose for a particular work was dictated by the concept. His rare ability to work in any material – cement, marble, bronze, wood-makes him stand out among modern sculptors. He followed the Michelangelo tradition in the processing of the marble block and became the only master to conquer the hard species of tropical trees. Today it is obvious that the legacy of the sculptor-thinker Erzya is not fully appreciated.


Tolstoyism; mysticism; archetype; harmony; classics; somatic perception.

DOI: 10.31249/hoc/2021.03.05

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