Korzhev remained committed to Communism and the present work is a strong statement of his loyalty to Soviet ideology. The iconography of the hammer and sickle was conceived during the Russian Revolution in 1917. As a Communist symbol, the hammer stood for industrial labour and the sickle for the peasantry.
Oil on canvas
100 × 100 cm; 39½ × 39½ in.
As early as the 1960s, the paintings of Korzhev – People's Artist of the USSR, laureate of the country's State Prizes, full member of the USSR Academy of Arts, and one of the distinguished masters of the Soviet and Russian school of painting – stood out among the works of his generation of artists. In his works, Korzhev asserted the moral and ethical principles he held to be true, traditional, and as his subjects he chose real people, their existence in time, their experience of their world.
The Great Patriotic War (World War II), coinciding with Korzhev's youth, became a formative event of his life and art. In July 1941 he turned sixteen and having completed his 'Voroshilov Marksmen' training, resolved to go to the front. It was only after persistent pleas from his teachers at the Moscow Special School of Art that Korzhev agreed to be evacuated to the village of Voskresenskoe along with other students of the School. He would remember his three years there for the rest of his life as a time of hardship and hunger, but also extraordinarily exciting intense learning and early achievement. It was during this time of war that the artist's core 'imperative' and romantic ideas were formed, to do with the necessity of fighting for life, man's moral strength and resilience in the face of death.