Artist - Russian impressionism museum
Collection

Oscar Rabin

02.01.1928 - ...

A classic of Soviet underground art, Oscar Rabin was one of the originators of non-conformism and pop-art in Russia. Progressive writers, artists and musicians would come to now-legendary gatherings at his apartment. Rabin initiated two exhibitions that made history, the scandalous Bulldozer exhibition, and the show at Ismailovo Park. So it was little surprise that the moment he found himself in France, Rabin learned that his Soviet citizenship had been taken away, and he no longer had the opportunity to return home. The collector and art dealer Alexander Glazer has called him the “Solzhenitsyn of painting”– to which Rabin modestly responded that such a description was an exaggeration. Oscar Rabin was born into a family of doctors, but was orphaned when he was only 14. He knew plenty of hunger and hardship during the war years, but his desire to draw was stronger than any such everyday struggles. In 1943, Rabin began to visit the art studio at the local Young Pioneer’s club, and a year later he entered the Art Academy in Riga. Because he had no passport and was unable to register for a dormitory, Rabin spent the nights secretly in the academy’s studios: he was always the first at the easel, but his teachers didn’t suspect anything. The young artist gained a reputation as a punctual, hardworking student. “Our Repin,” his classmates called him. When the opportunity arose, Rabin transferred to the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow, but he was expelled from there for “formalism” and never completed his education. For more than 30 years now, Oscar Rabin has lived in Paris. Not only has he achieved success, but finally he has solved his everyday financial problems. “This is probably the luckiest time in my life,” says Rabin. “Not in terms of age – why talk about that? – but in terms of an artist’s destiny.”