Maria Kazanskaya: biography, creativity, career, personal life

Our heroine is among the artists who created new art in a new country. Impressive nature could convey the world around them in unusual images and colors. All tragedies she took as closely and, unable to withstand them, lost her mind.


This girl had great people in her family. These were not aristocrats, commanders or politicians, they were the most famous painters and actors of the Russian Empire. The child’s mother Natalia Radlova-Kazanskaya played on stage for a long time, and then taught and wrote textbooks on theatre arts. She was in kinship with Mikhail Vrubel. Father Boris was involved in philology.

St. Petersburg – Maria Kazanskaya’s hometown Date of

birth Masha was covered by a secret. According to one data, it came to light in 1912, according to others, it happened in 1914. In 1916, she had a sister, Tanya. Children were introduced to art at an early age, but Maria surprised everyone. Already at 3 years old she painted perfectly and declared that when she grew up, she would become an artist. At school, the girl studied well, and when she finished 9 classes, began to realize her dreams.

Youth The

first master, to whom the schoolgirl decided to show her works, was Vladimir Lebedev. He noted the author’s non-standard style, advised Kazanskaya to go into training with avant-gardist Vera Yermolaeva. Maria began to visit the workshop of this rebel art in 1929. The mentor introduced her to Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Sterligov and Konstantin Rozhdestvensky. In 1931, the girl entered the Academy of Arts in her hometown.

Sketch. Artist Maria Kazanskaya

In a circle of people who connected their life with work, Maria Kazanskaya met her future husband. His name was Nikolai Smirnov and he was almost 20 years older than his sweetheart. During the tumultuous years of the Civil War, he painted propaganda posters and engaged in formative activities in theatres, later published in the press as an author of political cartoons. At the time of acquaintance with his future wife, he was known as an exhibition organizer The wedding took place in 1933.

The recognition

of the

Spouse strictly observed the boundary between personal life and professional self-realization. Maria Kazanskaya held the first exhibition of her paintings in 1934 thanks to the support of her companions. Her teacher Vera Yermolaeva heeded Vladimir Sterligov’s advice and turned for a few days her apartment into a gallery where paintings of talented young people were presented. Canvas machines stood out among others and attracted the attention of the public.

The work of Maria Kazanskaya

Young artist promised a brilliant career. She herself claimed to stick to the direction of painterly plastic realism. This direction in painting united a group of artists. They saw the manipulation of canvas and paint as an attempt to strike a balance between one’s own personality and the surrounding reality.

The work of Maria Kazan


After the passing of Sergei Kirov, arrests began in the country. The servants of the muses were repressed as well. In December 1934, our heroine and her companions were arrested. Artists were accused of anti-communist propaganda. The case was far-fetched, none of the detainees were an enemy of the state. Maria Kazanskaya’s biography was so pure and uncomplicated that even the most prejudiced judges were clear that this person was behind bars by accident. The following March, she was released. Interrogations and staying in a cell for a sensitive soul did not go without a trace.

In May 1935, Kazimir Malevich died. At his funeral, Maria Kazanskaya looked crushed by misfortune. People who knew her well noted that the young woman had mental problems. Her grandmother, who was cousin Mikhail Vrubel, lost her mind at old age. But Masha was still so young, she was recently educated, everyone hoped she would recover from the shock and return to normal. The miracle didn’t happen.

Kazimir Malevich’s funeral


While our heroine was under investigation, her relatives saved creative legacy of artists who ended up in prisons. Boris Kazansky showed courage by showing up to the apartment of the arrested Vera Yermolaeva and taking out the canvases of his daughter and her tutor from there. He was confident of the innocence of Masha and her pals and made a contribution to the rescue from destruction of the works of Russian avant-gardists. When Maria Borisovna was released, her father became her guardian. She herself was mentally ill and couldn’t take care of herself.

Now even more strange images were coming out from under Maria’s brush. She lost touch with reality, rarely addressing themes of cityscapes she had previously loved. Often the disease prevented the woman from working, and loved ones took her to hospital. After 1937, the condition of our heroine deteriorated. She no longer approached the easel; hospitalizations increased.

Blockadny Leningrad

When Leningrad was taken in the ring by Hitler’s troops, Boris Kazansky with a sick daughter on could not leave the city. They were distressed, starving. In the spring of 1942, the miserable became so bad that her parent sent her to the hospital. In medical institutions, in addition to treatment, patients received meals. The latter was too scarce and the environment did not contribute to recovery in any way. Maria Kazanskaya died of exhaustion in her hospital bed.

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