Axelrod, Meyer

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AXELROD, MEYER (1902–1970), Russian painter, graphic artist, and stage designer. Axelrod was born in Molodechno, Vilna province, Belorussia. As a child, he received a traditional Jewish education. During World War i, the family lived in Tambov, where he attended N. Perelman's private art studio. In 1918–19 he lived in Minsk, where he finished a technical school and made advertisement boards for Minsk movie theaters. He was drafted and served in the army in 1919–20. Serving in Smolensk, he attended the local Proletkult ("Proletarian Culture") Art Studio and occasionally visited Vitebsk, where he took painting classes with Y. Pan. In 1921, he displayed his works at the First All-Belorussia Exhibition in Minsk. From his earliest works and throughout his life, Axelrod was keenly interested in Jewish themes, depicting scenes and characters from the Belorussian shtetl as well as capturing the trauma of pogroms. In 1921–27, Axelrod studied at the Faculty of Graphics at the High Arts and Technical Workshops (vhutemas) in Moscow. He was a member of the "4 Arts" group and participated in its exhibits. In the 1920s and 1930s, he regularly exhibited in Moscow and Minsk and worked for various publishers, mainly designing books written in Yiddish or translated from Yiddish into Russian. In the early 1930s, Axelrod paid several visits to Jewish kolkhozes in the Crimea and executed a series of paintings portraying the life of Jewish agriculturists. From 1932, he worked for theaters, mostly Jewish, in Moscow, Belorussia, and the Ukraine, designing sets for several productions. In 1941–43, he lived in Alma-Ata, where he had a one-man show in 1942. In the 1940s, Axelrod continued to work as a set designer for Jewish theaters and designed editions of Yiddish literary classics. In the 1960s, he created a series of paintings called "Memories of the Old Minsk" and "The Ghetto." In 1968, he had a one-man exhibition in Rostov-on-Don.


G. Fiodorov, Meer Akselrod (Rus., 1982); E. Akselrod, Meer Akselrod (Rus., 1993).

[Hillel Kazovsky (2nd ed.)]