Information about the author:
Irina I. Davydova
Irina I. Davydova, PhD in Culturology, Senior Researcher, Maxim Gorky Museum (Moscow), А.M. Gorky Institute of World Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Malaya Nikitskaya, 6, 121069 Moscow, Russia.
The article is devoted to the one of the most contradictory and controversial portraits of A.M. Gorky who in 1927 set to the Dutch self-taught artist Christian Victor Kragballe Haagen-Müller (1894–1959). It became clear from letter of the artist’s wife that in 1927 her husband and she came to Italy for the purpose of painting a portrait of the proletarian writer, the Revolution Stormy Petrel, and at the day of the writer’s 60th anniversary two identical color lithographs of its sketches were presented to A.M. Gorky. “Many people made my portraits all of which were not good”, — the writer shared his impressions with P.D. Korin, as if remembering his short-term acquaintance with the Dutch artist. Gorky’s appraisal of Haagen-Müller’s work became an axiomatic quotation: “The explanations on the subject why Gorky became so pale are to be required from the artist!” — and implies the evident rejection of the artistic interpretation of the writer’s image. Which circumstances brought to such peremptory comments of the portrait? Was it inactivity, apathy and restraint of A.M. Gorky, even in the portrait space, still implying him, the literary and public isolation provoked by the fascists? Or was it the influence of the fashionable tendencies in painting like cubism which caused the persistent rejection of the realist writer? Or maybe, the proletarian writer understood the portrait as a political contract, since the fascism rapidly conquering the world with its breaking of the usual human reality, was denounced by the writer as “the denial of the culture and the sermon of the war”?
Keywords: A.M. Gorky, Victor Haagen-Müller, Hansen Gunnar, Guðmundur Kamban, portrait, caricature, fascism, the twenties of the 20th century.