(27.7 (8.8).1889, jēkabpils, ‒ 22.3.1967, Riga), people's artist of the Latvian SSR (1959), corresponding member AH the USSR (1954). Studied at the studios of J. Rozentala in Riga (1906-1907), R. K. Zhukovsky and Konstantin Yuon in Moscow (1907-08), and in the school of Stieglitz in St. Petersburg (1909-14). AH, the rector of the Latvian SSR (1944-61). The Chairman of the Board of the Union of artists of the Latvian SSR (1952-53). Among easel works S. ‒ the first in Latvia. the art specimens of the historical-revolutionary genre ("the Revolt of Kauguri", 1945, Art Museum of the Latvian SSR, Riga). As one of the leading masters of Latvian theater and decorative art, P has designed more than 250 productions at the Art theater. Rainis in Riga ("Fire and night" by Y. Rainis, 1947; State prize of the USSR, 1947). Awarded 3 orders and medal.
Lit.: Lacis R., Otto Skulme, M., 1959.
The Skulme family came from a small town of Jekabpils. The father of the future painters, Otto and his brother Uge was known as a good craftsman, his house was a lot of engravings, lithographs, illustrated books, and to the choice of the sons of the artist's profession he was in earnest — since I took, achieve perfection of skill in their craft.
Otto Skulme has a very good and versatile training. At age 17 he studied in Riga at J. Rosenthal, one of the most significant artists of the realistic art. Then there was the years of working in the studios of K. Yuon and S. Zhukovsky in Moscow and finally to the outbreak of the first world war classes at the school of Baron Stieglitz in St. Petersburg.
In 1919 Skulme returned from Russia to Latvia. It is immediately adjacent to the most advanced, most lively group of painters, who initially calls himself an expressionist, and then, quickly realizing the difference of their perceptions and aesthetics of German expressionism, just the "Group of Riga artists". At the group's exhibitions Skulme exhibited portraits, landscapes, genre paintings, still lifes.
In some works of the early 20-ies he tries to give the solution conditionally generalized, with elements of deformation. But then he realizes that the painting carries more temperamental, where the emotional atmosphere of the work is defined in the first color, sonority, richness. Works Skulme often intense in color, but at the same time, not mottled, the artist creates harmony of color contrasts. He strives for simplicity of form, its restraint, but in this ease we feel inner strength and wholeness, clarity of perception of the world.
It can be argued that painting Skulme, along with painting other members of the "Riga Group of artists" (say, like Leo Svemp or Janis Liepina) to the present day remains a living tradition of Latvian art. With her maps and balance their quest many famous masters.
In post-war art Skulme more obvious than before, revealed his inner desire for monumentalism manifested in a number of historical and historical-revolutionary paintings. The first and perhaps the most masterful of them painting "Naugorskoe uprising" (1946). It's written freely and widely, in a manner somewhat approaching to the style of monumental and decorative painting. The artist sought to create a generalized poetic image of the insurgent peasantry.
Some characters are written specifically and individualisierung but more important for Skulme to Express the General mood of the impulse of the masses and it emphasizes dynamic composition. Other historical paintings of an experienced master of historical painting "Lenin at the fourth Congress of social-Democrats of the Latvian region in Brussels in 1914" (1950-1952) and "Vladimir Ilyich Lenin with Latvian Riflemen in the Kremlin, may 1, 1918" (1957) — can be comparable with the paintings on historical-revolutionary theme in Russian Soviet painting of the 1940s-1950s years.
The artist successfully cope with the task of creating large-scale multi-figure compositions, in its own way reveals the image of Lenin. If the first of them bears the imprint of some external representativeness, in the second painting the artist, on the contrary, enhances the emotional impact of "private" moments, creates an atmosphere of warmth, trust. And the painting itself changes its character: "smoothness", academic vypisnoy of parts give place to complicated and delicate picturesque decision.
What a monumental aspirations Skulme in his historical painting is not accidental tribute to the time, indirectly confirms the acquaintance with his work in the theater. And it is, perhaps, no less significant sphere of his art than painting. Theatre he fell in love with back in Petersburg, when he visited the Stieglitz school, where he taught decorator Mariinsky theatre P. Lambin, often taking as assistants to their students. Skulme worked in Riga for music and drama theatres. If we try to allocate the work among his best, we will see that in most cases it is either the scenery to the classics of world drama — dramas of Shakespeare, Schiller, Ibsen or the works of J. Rainis ("Fire and night", 1946) and A. Upita dedicated to the legendary heroic events from the history of the Latvian people.
Skulme is widely used on stage painting, color for greater emotional impact of the scenery on the viewer and sought to give the poetic image of the play in the forms of monumental architecture.
Despite the fact that the development of decorative art now comes in other ways, the legacy of the artist remains very high. Skulme, an outstanding painter, a highly experienced theatrical master, the intelligent and subtle teacher, brought up not one generation of Latvian artists, is considered a classic of Latvian art.