Authorship Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko

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Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko; (July 5, 1929 — January 27, 1989) was a sculptor, jeweler, creator of a number of unique sculptures of small forms in the genre of stone—cutting and jewelry art (voluminous Florentine mosaic), as well as outstanding works of jewelry art, including with cloisonne enamel. In his youth he worked as a decorator, and as a classical sculptor, then as a theatrical production designer. Member of the Union of Artists of the USSR.

Konovalenko's work is located at the junction of sculpture and jewelery and is distinguished by subtle psychologism and plastic expressiveness. The artist created an extensive gallery of folk types, characters, captured their spirituality.

Vasily Konovalenko was born in the Zaporozhye region, Akimovsky district, Petrovka village. (ukr. S. Petrivka, Yakimivsky district, Zaporizka region) July 05, 1929. Vasily's father is Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko, (1900 — 1946) Ukrainian, mother is Fedosia Tikhonovna Galiguzova, (1899—?), Russian. Both come from Zaporozhye, one of the largest cities in Ukraine. In the documents Konovalenko wrote the nationality of the Ukrainian. He was the fifth child in the family, the only boy.

As a child, he was a resident of a large industrial center of the 1930s - the mining city of Donetsk (at that time called Stalino). He lived in the village for only two years of his infant life — since 1931, his father worked in the leadership of Dontrans, the transport organization of the industrial city of Stalin's times. Konovalenko went to secondary school in 1938, graduated from the 5th grade, after which in 1943, due to the martial law, he and his mother were evacuated. My father was conscripted into the Red Army.

In 1943 Vasily returned to Stalino. Since 1944 (since the age of 14) Vasily Konovalenko worked at the Donetsk National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after A. B. Solovyanenko as a prop sculptor. Having initially entered the position of "student of the decorator", after two years he gets the position of "head of the prop shop".

At the end of the 7th grade (in parallel with work in the Donetsk theater) studied. From March 1944 to June 1945, he was recalled from work in the theater to the school of the FZO school of factory training. He received a mandatory working specialty there in those years, probably in the mining industry. Then he entered the School of Architecture and Art at the sculpture faculty, received a secondary special education.

Many sources erroneously indicate that he was a member of the Union of Artists since 1946. This is not true, in 1946 he was only 17 years old. True, he was already in charge of the prop shop, but in his personal file he writes exactly "a member of Rabis".

On 03/28/1949, he joined the Stalin Regional Association of Artists and worked as a sculptor until January 25, 1950, after which he returned back to his native theater and worked as a head. a prop shop from February 01, 1950 to October 25, 1950.

From the theater he was drafted into the Red Army, served in Lomonosov as a sailor of the Baltic Fleet from October 1950 to March 1951. So he saw Leningrad for the first time, and decided to stay.


Having been demobilized, in May 1951 Vasily completely moved to Leningrad. On August 14, he entered the Leningrad Musical Comedy Theater as a decorator, where he worked until October 22. After leaving, he immediately passes through the competition Voloshin M. The Tale of the master // The Whole World magazine. 36 (3.2002) and to the Mariinsky Theater (at that time "Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater named after S.M. Kirov"). He works as a decorator in many performances. This is the time of Konovalenko's active self-education. He is one of those artists of the 50s who turned to self-education to overcome the imposed norms of party art. Konovalenko relies on the classical samples of the Hermitage, books in search of his creative path, far from the stamps of training in Soviet art education of those years.

At the Mariinsky Theater Konovalenko participates in the production of the Stone Flower under the direction of S.I. Virsaladze (1957) as a decorator. Having started early to study the art of sculpture, theatrical and decorative art, props, by the beginning of work on the ballet "Stone Flower" in 1956, he was already an experienced artist, worked a lot with color and textures. The performance was an artistic breakthrough to a new theatrical thinking. Virsaladze and Grigorovich initiated a new style of work on the play, where all the participants worked as a single creative team. The opportunity to show himself as an independent artist opened the way for Vasily to artistic and staged work. Working with the theme of the stone, Konovalenko returned to the world of mining underground treasures, familiar to the artist from his life in the mining town. Collaboration on the legendary project with outstanding artists — Virsaladze, Osipenko, Vecheslova, Grigorovich — inspired the young artist. He performs his own productions in the opera houses of the country. In the process of working on the ballet "Stone Flower", he began to master polychrome sculpture on his own — a genre that was in decline at that moment.

By 1959, the first masterpieces of stone-carving sculpture appeared, but Vasily Konovalenko was not given the opportunity to exhibit sculptural works, he combined a new direction with work on theatrical productions.

In 1961, Vasily was the production designer of the ballet "Stone Flower" at the Stalin Theater in Donetsk. In the same year — the production designer of the ballet "The Path of Thunder", Stalino. In 1962, the "Last Ball" by Y. Biryukov. Directed by K. Muller.

In addition, operas and ballets were performed in his scenography: "Spartak", "Aida", "Bayadere", "Scheherazade", "Gypsies", "Boris Godunov" in different cities.


Finally, in 1973 (Konovalenko is 44 years old), the first solo exhibition of sculpture — stone—cutting art took place (before that, only scenic exhibitions). The exhibition held at the Russian Museum became a sensation, and Konovalenko's sculptures were purchased by the Gokhran of Russia as a national treasure. Konovalenko was twice awarded VDNH gold medals. The exhibition catalog was personally compiled by the famous director of the Russian Museum Vasily Pushkarev, and the text was written by Sergey Mikhalkov.

Konovalenko, now a recognized sculptor and stonecutter, is invited to Moscow to become the chief artist of the Ministry of Geology and is given the opportunity to create his own school—workshop "Laboratory of Small Sculptural Forms". He's moving to Moscow. However, dissatisfied with the fact that the exhibition in the Russian Museum was made over his head, Grigory Romanov begins unjustified criminal prosecution of Konovalenko. He is "hinted" that a unique collection (estimated by foreign experts at $ 2 million) of the works made should be "donated" to the state, which he does, and the persecution ends. Having recruited students to the school, teaching them, Konovalenko himself continued to work in the direction that glorified him.

The position of a lone artist, led to a clash with the authorities, threats. After the story with Romanov, Vasily was required to create values for the bureaucratic elite, political sculptural portraits — Brezhnev, Lenin, etc. This did not correspond to Vasily's worldview and the artist was forced to emigrate to America in 1981.


In 1981 (at the age of 52), he emigrated, taking with him only his favorite fishing rod. Traces of the emigrant's activity of the 1980s were erased, erased in the Soviet years in the artist's homeland, his name was not mentioned, after perestroika newspaper articles multiplied errors and contradictions in the data about his life. In this confusion, fundamental points were also distorted: Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko was presented as a villager, an artist who suddenly met with the theme of stone in the ballet "Stone Flower" and moved to sculpture for the first time (although he started working as a sculptor very early, and grew up in a mining town). Photographs of his masterpieces were published in Soviet publications without his surname.

American period

In March 1984, the Museum of Natural History of Denver, Colorado, hosted an exhibition of Vasily Konovalenko. The works remained in the permanent exhibition of the museum. The artist was 55 years old. The grandiose success of the exhibition, world recognition was overshadowed only by a break with the Motherland.

Attempted homecoming and death

In 1989, Konovalenko began negotiations on an exhibition in Russia and on returning to his homeland to create a school of stone-cutting art. He is full of plans and hopes. He achieved virtuoso skill, created a number of masterpieces, he sought to give it to his native country. He was one of those who are rightfully spoken about — the faces of the era. And this rush of return is a significant gesture of the artist. A sudden attack cut short his plans. Vasily Vasilyevich Konovalenko died on January 27, 1989 in New Windsor, New York. The cause of death is a brain hemorrhage. Before his death, he spent five days in the hospital, in a coma.

Vasily is buried (like many other emigrants) at the Russian Orthodox cemetery in Nyack (Nyack, New York, USA).


From April 8 to July 24, 2011 Konovalenko's works were presented in Russia at the exhibition "Carl Faberge and the masters of stone carving. Precious treasures of Russia".


Many traits connect Konovalenko with his great predecessors Vrubel, Kustodiev, other artists and sculptors of the turn of the XX century associated with theater, sculpture of small forms, mosaic, stone. The Impressionists influenced Vasily's sense of color and pattern in stone, especially K.Monet, with whom Konovalenko's understanding of stone-cutting sculpture as "painting in stone" correlates.

Russian Ural nameless masters, and then sculptors Derbyshev, Perkhin, Fredman-Kluzel, Savitsky and others created at the beginning of the XX century the tradition of sculpture of small forms, which Konovalenko developed, having passed the path from the decorative and applied aspect of stone-cutting and jewelry — to fine art. Carl Faberge was not a stonecutter sculptor, so it is impossible to talk about the influence of Faberge personally.

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