Vsevolod Tarasevich

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Sborka radioteleskopa (Assembling a radio telescope), Kharkiv, 1955

Vsevolod Sergeevich Tarasevich (1919-1998) was born in Moscow during the Russian Civil War. He began publishing images in the journal Smena (Change) and newspaper Leningradskaia Pravda (Leningrad Truth) as a student at the Leningrad Electro-Technical Institute. In 1940 he became a wartime correspondent for TASS, photographing the Leningrad Blockade from 1941 to 1943. Yet, Tarasevich is perhaps best known for his postwar photography. He was considered to be extremely energetic and easily bored, sometimes conducting up to seven shoots in a single day. The political shift that occurred in the mid-1950s after Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin’s cult of personality significantly impacted Tarasevich’s career. The easing of restrictions on photographers, particularly revisions to the appropriate themes and subjects for photojournalists, coupled with Tarasevich’s insatiable need to photograph, led him to become one of the most prolific photojournalists for illustrated journals. In 1961 he was hired by APN where his work was regularly featured in Ogenek (Little Flame), Sovetskii soiuz (Soviet Union), and Rabotnitsa (Working Woman).

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Liudi za stolikami v kafe (People at tables in a café), c. 1950s
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Demonstratsiia modelei detskoi odezhdy (Models demonstrating children’s clothing), c. 1950-1958

Tarasevich covered a wide array of subjects in his work, including industry, collective farms and parades, but also women and children modeling the newest clothing styles, street scenes in Moscow, summers at the dacha, and a range of other themes that showcased everyday life. The scope of his photographs, from documentary reportage, to art photography, to essentially Soviet fashion advertising photographer (a complicated category), reveals his personality and energy: unsatisfied with a single style, Tarasevich jumps from one genre to another. Nevertheless, I find this indicative of his talent as a photographer who operated as a jack-of-all-trades who managed to master them all.

The majority of Tarasevich’s postwar photographs are visual chronicles of the Soviet experience. He usually chose human subjects for his photographs, which perhaps accounts for his popularity with illustrated journals rather than newspapers. As opposed to his colleague Bal’termants (see my previous post Dmitrii Bal’termants, July 8), Tarasevich rarely published images of public figures, instead focusing on common themes and subjects drawn from the shared experience of Soviet life.

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Nadiusha Molchanova c vishniami (Nadezhda Molchanova with cherries), 1956. From the series “Vozvrashhenie na Rodinu” (“Return to the Motherland”) in Voroshilovgrad, Ukraine (now Luhansk)

The photographs below are a few examples of Tarasevich’s untitled and unfinished images from 1958 that had yet to be cropped, complete with the photographer’s hand drawn edits. While edited images themselves are not hard to come by, Tarasevich’s unfinished images demonstrate the process by which the photographer manipulated images before they were submitted for publication. It is unclear if these “candid” shots of traditional Slavic dances (presumably Russian based on the costumes and location) were ever published, but they demonstrate the initial rudimentary editing process photojournalists used in the 1950s and 1960s.

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Untitled, Moscow oblast, Krasnopolianskii region (now Khimki), 1958
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Untitled, Moscow oblast, Krasnopolianskii region (now Khimki), 1958

My next post will include further discussion of the shifts that occurred in photojournalism and photography in the mid-1950s as a result of the Cultural Thaw.

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