Expanded Timeline










1913

Born November 11 in Lublin, Poland. His father, Samuil Lembersky, was a mathematician, and his mother, Haia Perla (Luba), a practicing musician who studied with Franz Liszt.

1914–18

World War I
Lembersky family become refugees and move to Berdichev, Western Ukraine. Samuil is a school teacher until 1915; he serves in the army until 1917; he is severely and remains in care of his wife.
Haia Perla is a care-giver at an orphanage (1920-24), then a teacher of foreign languages in a public school in Berdichev (1924-41).
The Lemberskys befriend the family of writer Vasily Grossman (1905–1964), also residents of Berdichev.

1917

October Socialist Revolution

1918-22

Russian Civil War

1921-28

Lembersky attends public school in Berdichev; develops interest in art, theater design and mathematics.

1928-29

Moves to Kiev to study art at the Jewish Arts and Trades School, formerly called Kulturliga, in Kiev; classes are taught by Marc Epstein and David Bubarev;  schools' curriculum was  developed by the original members of EvSektzia (The Jewish Arts Section), including El Lissitzky, Issahar Ber Ribak, Iosif Chaikov, Alexander Tyshler, and Boris Aronson, among others, who maintained connection to the school throughout the 1920s.
Takes part in Soviet Avant-Garde theater design, easel painting and graphic art.
Meets Solomon Mikhoels.
Befriends fellow students at the Arts School, including Iosif Zisman and Gersh (Grigoriy) Inger.
Reads contemporary the work by Russian and Jewish writers, including Boris Pasternak, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Alexander Blok, Der Nister, Isaak Babel, and Hayim Byalik.

1930-33

Artist and designer for Central Workers Club, Berdichev.
Teaches art at public schools (#9, #8, and #3) in Berdichev.
Artist and stage designer at Kiev Jewish theater.

1932-33

Collectivization and The Great Famine in the Ukraine
Socialist Realism becomes a state policy, and all other artistic directions are banned.

1933-35

Attends the Kiev State Art Institute (the studio of painter Pavel Volokidin).
Works for newspaper Proletarskaya Pravda (Proletarian Truth).
Designs urban decorations for festivities and street parade (November 1934).
Artist and designer at the Red Army House for Berdichev garrison.
Creates workers portraits and organizes exhibition at the Progress car-making plant for The Industrial Conference of Workers in Berdichev.
Meets artist Isaak Brodsky, touring Kiev Art Institute, who, after seeing Lembersky’s work, invites him to study at the newly reopened the Russian Academy of Arts in Leningrad (now the I. Repin Saint Petersburg State Academy Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture), of which Brodsky is president.

1935-41

Enrolls at the Academy and joins the easel painting studio led by Boris Ioganson. Attends classes taught by Nikolay Punin, chief theoretician of the Soviet Avant-Garde,  M.D. Bernshtein, A.E. Karev, A. D. Zaitsev; visits the studios of Aleksandr Osmerkin and Pavel Filonov, an Avant-Garde painter and founder of Critical Realism, who continued to work privately in Leningrad after his work was banned under Socialist Realism.
Meets Ludmila (Lucia) Keiserman (1915–1994), his future wife. Keiserman works as the assistant to Isaak Brodsky 1935-1939 and as a staff at the Academy thereafter.
In 1938 tours the Urals, focusing on industrial community of Nizhny Tagil.

1941

Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, June 22, 1941
The Siege of Leningrad, 1941-44
Nazi mass murder of Soviet Jews in the occupation
Parents perish in Holocaust, August-September 1941
Lembersky is wounded during the defense of Leningrad in the summer of 1941 and becomes critically ill after contracting typhoid. He is moved to the Academy, which  shelters its extended community, who did not evacuate; Lucia Keiserman is among them.
The Academy resumes classes in the besieged Leningrad.
On December 2, during the time of extreme starvation, Lembersky defends his thesis  before  academic committee, presenting paintings in the series Workers on Strike at the Urals Plant.  In his speech, Lembersky states that his initial unrealized thesis theme was devoted to the Jews during the Revolution.  He is awarded Masters degree in easel painting, with honors for academic achievement:
“Student Lembersky is a a very talented, expressive painter. He has mastered drawing and possesses a great talent for composition. He has grown much and has always showed exceptional commitment to his work,”  (Boris Ioganson, A. D. Zaitsev).
Ioganson recommends Lembersky for post-graduate program at the Academy.

1942-44

Evacuated to Sverdlovsk (now Ekaterinburg).
Joins Sverdlovsk Union of Culture led by writer Pavel Bazhov.
Moves to Nizhny Tagil to record industrial work at the home-front.
Organizes infrastructure for developing local art; creates and leads an art school, the Artists Union, and an art gallery (now the Nizhny Tagil State Museum of Fine Arts).
Takes part in five art exhibitions in the Urals.
Creates Album-Report devoted to the Urals in the wartime.
National and local press publishes favorable reviews of his work, including Literatura I Iskusstvo (Literature and Art), Trud (Labor) and Uralskiy Sovremennik (The Urals Contemporary).
He is part of artistic circle including conductor Natan Rakhlin, actress Nadezhda Komarovskaya, sculptor Ernst Neizvestny, writer Marietta Shaginyan, poet Bella Dizhur, artists Vasily Ushakov, Vasiliy Dalekiy, Broneslava Gershoig, and Mikhail Distergeft.

1944

Returns to Leningrad.
Rejoins postgraduate program at the Russian Academy of Arts. Prepares thesis Oath: Miners of the Mountain Visokaya, devoted  to the life and labor of the miners of the Urals during World War II.
Designs sets for Month in a Village (by Ivan Turgenev) at Leningrad New Theater.

1944-54

Completes the last  painting in the series Execution. Babi Yar (1952).
Creates portraits of workers at the Voskov plant in Leningrad.
Works on state commissions,  including Varyag (Varangian), Holiday, and  Reading of War Order before Battle (with Nikolay Timkov).
Heads group projects including a triptych Julius Fucík with Aleksandr Dashkevich and Nikolai Brandt) commemorating the life of Czechoslovakian journalist and Anti-Nazi resistance leader.
Continues friendship with Dmitry Shostakovich, artists Natan Altman and Anatoly Kaplan, and Nadezhda Komarovskaya,  among others.

1946-47

Teaches at the Art College (now Saint-Petersburg Nikolay Roerikh Art College) in Leningrad. Offers private art classes at his studio.

1955

Completes triptych Leaders and Children for Anichkov Palace (the Palace of Pioneers), where it remains on view until 1993 (current whereabouts unknown).

1956-57

Tours and creates  images of ancient Russian towns of Novgorod and Pskov.
Works on First News: Revolution 1917 series.

1958

Returns to Nizhny Tagil, with artists Aleksey Komarov and Meta Dreyfeld.
Creates Nizhny Tagil series.

1959-64

Creates Miners and Railway Pointer series.
Creates Ladoga series; Old Ladoga is a medieval town near  Volkhov River and Ladoga Lake; during the Siege, the lake offered an escape route, the Road of Life.
These paintings were regarded highly by art historian Evgeny Kovtun, among others.
Continues to speak out for greater freedom in Soviet art.
Organizes unofficial art exhibitions of young artists.
Meets frequently and works closely with fellow artists, Solomon Gershov, Ivan Godlevsky, Aleksey Komarov, Mikhail Raikhel, and  Arseny Semenov. Meets with and visits studios of young non-conformist artists and writers who have been isolated by the establishment, including Konstantin Simun, German Egoshin, Ernst Neizvestny, Mikhail Shemyakin, Oskar Rabin and Sergey Dovlatov.

1960

A two-person exhibition, with sculptor Moisey (Mikhail) Vayman at the exhibition gallery of the Leningrad Union of Soviet Artists, LOSSKh. Lembersky exhibits 76 oil paintings, 142 works on paper; several paintings are purchased for museums by the Ministry of Culture. Catalog essay is authored by Petr Kornilov. Filmed by artist Gennady Tarvid. Public discussion was recorded in stenographic record, speakers included artists Yaroslav Nikolaev, Aleksey Komarov, M.Z. Taranov, and Udaleev,  sculptors Naum Mogilevskiy, V.E. Koplyansky, Petr Talko and Spasskaya-Kaplun, art historians Valentin Brodsky and Era Pavlova,  among others.  
Writer Boris Kraichik begins a novel based on Lembersky's life (unrealized).

“If art is ultimate truth in expressing man in relation to life, then this exhibition demonstrates that truth of life,” (Petr Talko).
 
“Lembersky is a courageous and determined artist...” (Valentin Brodsky).

“Lembersky felt that his earlier method, in which he had worked, did not reach the force required of a great artist and he began to change, for the better. …I am astounded by this change... I appeal to young artists: if you wish to genuinely grow in art and express the truth, you must take Lembersky as example,” (Naum Mogilevsky).

1962

Repression of the arts follow after Khruschev's confrontation with Ernst Neizvestny  and non-conformist group at  Manezh exhibition in Moscow.

1963

Vladimir Serov, head of the Artists Union of the U.S.S.R., makes  rounds of inspection of the studios of Leningrad non-conforming artists, Lembersky is among them. After a short discussion, Lembersky ejects Serov and his committee from his studio. Serov presses for his expulsion from the Union of Artists. Leningrad community of artists, headed by sculptor Mikhail Anikushin, Lembersky's fellow Academy alumnus, declines.
Lembersky is blacklisted as a “formalist.”
Continues to speak out for greater freedom in Soviet art.
Organizes unofficial art exhibitions of young artists.
Organizes Exhibition of Seven (with Iosif Zisman, Mikhail Natarevich, Mikhail Vaynman, Maria Kharlamova, Naum Mogilevsky and Boris Ermolaev, catalog authored by art historian Tatyana Manturova, unrealized).

1964-66

Creates Dzintari series following a visit to Dzintari, Latvia (current location of these works unknown).
Teaches painting and drawing at LISI (Leningrad Engineering and Construction Institute) and at the Palace of Culture for Professional Unions.
Attends Wednesdays gatherings at Avgust and Natalia Lanin studio.
Natalia Lanina interviews Lembersky for a television program about his work (unrealized).

1969

Lembersky's work is published at the art insert of Sovetish Heimland, (also in 1972 with biographical essay by artist Iosif Zisman); Sonya Cherniak is the art editor.
His paintings are selected for a semi-official exhibition (held at the Research Institute of Organic Materials in Leningrad), also included Solomon Gershov, Zaveb Arshakuni, German Egoshin, Valery Vatenin, Sorokin, Rusakov,  A. Ender, Vasmi, Shamanov, and Lapitsky, among others.
Writer Boris Kraichik begins a novel based on Lembersky's life (unrealized).

1970

Dies December 2 at his home in Leningrad. LOSKh organizes Memorial Exhibition of his work at LOSKh Exhibition Gallery.

1971-72

Lembersky's work is selected by Sovetish Heimland for its ten-year anniversary exhibition of paintings with Jewish themes; exhibition also included  Robert Falk, Aleksandr Gluskin, among others.

1980

His widow emigrates, with his oeuvre, to the U.S.