Spring 2006 (14.1)
Gulag in Art
Nikolai Getman - A Former Prisoner Remembers
Nikolai Getman (1917-
Strangely enough, there are very few
paintings depicting the Gulag forced-labor prison network system
of Stalin's Era. Nikolai Getman (1917- ) is one of very few artists
who has documented what he saw and experienced.
in 1946 Getman became one of the millions of Stalin's victims.
He was seated at the same table as some of his artist friends
when one of them drew a caricature of Stalin on a cigarette box.
The consequence? The entire group was arrested and Getman was
sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and five years suppression
of civic rights and sent to Taishetlag in Russia's Irkutsk Oblast.
Stalin's death brought about Getman's release 7 years, 10 months
and 18 days later.
After his release in 1953, Getman started painting in complete
secrecy. He worked on his paintings for more than 40 years. In
1996, fearing that his paintings might be lost or even destroyed,
he appealed for sponsors to help take them out of Russia. The
entire collection is now in the care of the Jamestown Foundation
in Washington, DC. Getman lives in Orel, Russia..
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