A great artist of the soviet country30.11.2017
Ivan Dubasov designed many symbols of the state – starting with the Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union and sketches of the state awards, and up to postage stamps, banknotes and coin designs.
Ivan Dubasov’s story at Goznak started in a very unusual way and established a tradition when Goznak chooses its future Head Artist itself. Just like Dubasov, the next Head Artists would come to Goznak after taking part in a competition – Dubasov’s future pupil Igor Krylkov and Takhir Seifulin who still works as Head Artist of Goznak.
A dropout of Stroganov’s Art School, after running away to the imperialistic war, Ivan Dubasov returned from the Red Army in 1922 and looked for any job without success. In the summer of 1922, a newspaper announcement of a competition for the best design of a postage stamp dedicated to the 5th anniversary of the October revolution and foundation of the RSFSR, caught his eye accidentally. The first prize was one billion roubles.
Ivan Dubasov remembered this turning point in his destiny the following way, “I admit I am greatly surprised now that my drawing was a success. Perhaps I could not have drawn it better at that time, but now I see that the stamp design was weak… It is interesting to mention that the project was coloured with the solution of potassium permanganate, because at the time I was so poor that I didn’t even have paints; I found potassium permanganate among my father’s medicine vials. However, the end justifies the means, even if the means are medical”. Dubasov painted the figure of a stonecutter cutting the text “RSFSR 1917 – 1922” on a stone.
More than a hundred artists took part in the competition; there were a few prominent artists among them. Ivan Dubasov, an unknown artist, received the first prize.
Alexander Efimovich Sukhih, Main Technician heading the Artistic and Graphical Part and one of the judges of the competition for the best stamp, invited Ivan to work at Goznak as an engraver, and later on an arranger of drawings.
Right after his victory in the competition, Ivan Dubasov achieved another creative victory already being a Goznak’s employee. In 1922, Goznak was offered a challenge – to improve the Coat of Arms by Artist Korzun, so that “Proletarians of all countries, Unite!” inscription would be written not only in Russian, but also in the languages of the republics of the USSR on the Coat of Arms. It was Dubasov who offered to wreathe the batches of spikes with bands with inscriptions in the national languages. Moreover, the design solution permitted to transform the Coat of Arms easily and add an inscription in a new language when new republics joined the USSR.
During his life, Dubasov also created more than 150 postage stamps. Some of the most interesting were the “funereal” stamps in the memory of V. Lenin. The artist prepared their sketches in one night. This fact made it possible to print the stamps so quickly that they were on sale at the Central Telegraph Office at the day and time of the leader’s funeral – on January 27, 1924, at 16:00.
Since 1923, Ivan Dubasov started working upon the banknote designs. In 1932, he became Head Artist of Goznak. Since that moment until the artist’s retirement in 1971, practically all banknote sketches, both in circulation and unapproved, were created either by Ivan Dubasov or under his supervision.
In the 1930s-1940s Ivan Dubasov worked upon the sketches of the state awards. He participated in creating the first sketch of the Order of Lenin together with Petr Tayozhniy and Ivan Shadr.
In 1938 he prepared sketches of medals “For Labour Valour” and “For Distinguished Labour”, and in 1939a sketch of the highest medal in the USSR – “Gold Star”. Later on, Ivan Dubasov created the projects of Marshal’s Star and awards like Motherhood Order of three classes (1944).
Bond certificates, banknotes of the currency reform of 1947 and many other artefacts of the USSR of the middle of the 20th century were also made by Dubasov.
In 1945, Ivan Dubasov was awarded with the Order of Lenin “For carrying out most important tasks of the government” (namely, sketches of money for the socialist countries).
Later on, Ivan Dubasov became a teacher, not less talented than he was an artist. Here is how Igor Krylkov who became Head Artist of Goznak, just like Dubasov, remembered him, “I came to Goznak when I was 16. He made my destiny both ideologically and as a specialist. What kind of teacher was he? He was not in the classic sense. But everybody learned from him. He was a man of superior intelligence and extensive knowledge. Everybody came to him – engravers, punch-cutters, guillochers… they sought his advice not because of his occupation, but because they knew he would definitely give advice. His method of teaching was to entrust carrying out a production job. There was no rudeness in him; nobody has ever heard a swear word from him. But he could chastise a delinquent in such a way that he would remember it for a long time.
He was an excellent painter and he taught by his example. He worked easily. He was not embarrassed of working in public. His great commitment and perseverance astonished greatly. One could not help catching it. He had insistence in reaching the set goal. It is remarkable that he reckoned with the opinion of his colleagues”.
Ivan Dubasov painted banknotes issued after the reform of 1961 together with his pupils. He created the backsides of all the face values; Y. Lukyanov and S. Pomanskiy, well-known artists of Goznak, designed the front sides.
A huge team of specialists always worked upon the banknotes. The portrait of Lenin (bass-relief) by N. Sokolov was depicted on all the face values; L. Mayorova and N. Mikheev, artists of Goznak, engraved the portrait. Lidia Mayorova, a pupil of Dubasov, would later on describe how the pupils he took in 1948 treated Dubasov in her memoires, “The young people made a god of him, they quoted and remembered his words for the whole life. For many, including me because I had lost my father soon after the war ended, Dubasov superseded father at work”.
In 1971, at the age of 74 years, Ivan Dubasov retired after having worked at Goznak for 49 years and continued to help his colleagues with advice. Ivan Dubasov remained the main authority among the artists working upon the sketches of banknotes and other state documents.
Graphic works by Ivan Ivanovich Dubasov are preserved at the Odintsovo Regional Natural History Museum. The artist was born and buried in this town.
Stamps, banknotes, orders manufactured according to his sketches, as well as other works of the artist are carefully preserved in the state and private collections composing the pride of the Russian philately and bonistics.
The main part of the originals of his creative heritage is at the Expositional and Exhibition Center at the “History of Money” Museum of Goznak in Saint Petersburg.
One can see a lot of exhibits connected with Dubasov’s name at the History of Money Exposition (Anninskiy Cavalier of the Peter and Paul Fortress). Besides the samples of paper money, they are project drawings of banknotes of the 1920s – 1940s, for example. There are also projects of postage stamps created by the artist at the museum; in particular, a project that was named the best at the competition of stamp projects for the 5th anniversary of the October revolution as well as a project of the funereal Lenin’s stamp of 1924.