Labas Alexander
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   Alexander Labas was born in Smolensk in 1900. In 1910 his family moved to Riga, and in 1912 on to Moscow. Labas enrolled in the Stroganov Art School (where he studied under D. Shcherbinovsky, F. Fedorovsky and S. Noakowski). In parallel he attended F. Rerberg’s and I. Mashkov’s studios. After the 1917 Russian revolution he continued his studies under P. Konchalovsky at the State Free Art Workshops.
   In 1919 he volunteered for service in the Red Army and was an artist of the 3rd Army of the Eastern Front. After the end of the Civil War Labas taught at the State Art Workshops in Yekaterinburg and then returned to Moscow. In 1924 at V. Favorsky’s invitation Labas began to teach painting, together with K. Istomin, at VKhUTEMAS. That same year he took part, together with A. Deineka, A. Goncharov, P. Williams and A. Tyshler, in organising the Easel Painters Society (OST). From the mid-1920s Labas was very active in art life. His works were repeatedly displayed at exhibitions held in the Soviet Union, as well as in Europe and America. Thus, in 1930 and 1932 his works were among the exhibits at the International Fine Art Exhibition in Venice, and in 1931 at the International Exhibition of Painting in Pittsburgh, Baltimore and St. Louis (USA).
   Back home Labas was accused of formalism, as a result of which he was barred from exhibiting and subjected to fierce criticism in the press. Among his later major works are dioramas and panoramas made for the Soviet pavilions at the 1937 Paris International Exhibition and the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Labas also took part in designing the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (later, the Economic Achievements Exhibition, VDNKh). Labas did stage design for productions by S. Mikhoels and N. Okhlopkov, but thought easel painting and graphic works to be the cause of his life and never abandoned them till the end of his days. Labas died in 1983. His works are kept at the State Tretiakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts (Moscow), the State Russian Museum (Petersburg) and many other museum and private collections inside and outside Russia.