An illustrated album “Unofficial Art of the Second World War. Elena Marttila. Pavel Afonin. Sergey Babkov. Personal History and Memory” by Ksenia Afonina (in Russian), (Kriga, 2021).
The album features over a hundred works conveying the first-hand military experience of three artists – E.O. Marttila, P.I. Afonin and S.F. Babkov. What distinguishes their pictures is their individual view – young art school graduates who found themselves in the centre of the grandiose events unfolding on the Eastern Front – a view free from official commissions and the demands of state propaganda. A special place in the publication is devoted to the sketches of the young woman artist Elena Marttila, made in besieged Leningrad, as well as auto-lithographs and engravings based on them in the postwar years. Some of you might remember the exhibition of her works “Art and Endurance in the Siege of Leningrad” in Darwin College from January to March 2017.
The works of the sapper Pavel Afonin and the artilleryman Sergey Babkov are represented by portraits and genre scenes from the life of a soldier, mainly captured at the front and in hospitals. The artists created a gallery of vivid images of their wartime experiences and their contemporaries. Their works help to imagine and feel the depth of the trials that befell the frontline generation. Some of Pavel Afonin’s and Sergey Babkov’s works were displayed at the “Art at the Front” exhibition in Jesus College Chapel in May 2013.
More than half of the works are published for the first time, as well artists’ personal diaries and photographs. The book is available to order.