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Lev Efimovich Kerbel (Russian: Лев Ефимович Кербель; November 7 [O.S. October 25] 1917 - 14 August 2003) is a renowned sculptor of Soviet realist works. Kerbel's creations included statues of Marx, Lenin and Yuri Gagarin, which were sent to socialist countries across the world. Many of his works of art were destroyed in the years following the collapse of the socialist block, but his enormous Karl Marx monument in Chemnitz, formerly "Karl Marx Stadt", has been preserved as a cultural monument.
Kerbel was born to a Russian Jewish family in the village of Semenovka in Chernigov Gubernia, Russian Empire (currently Ukraine), on the day that Saint Petersburg's Winter Palace was stormed by the Bolsheviks. Lev's family moved to Russia's Smolensk region there he began sculpting as a child. He continued to sculpt and in 1934 he won an award from the Komsomol (Young Communist League) for a plaque of Lenin.
After the war, Kerbel's career took off with a wide range of commissions. In 1958 he sculpted a statue in Shanghai that depicted a huge Soviet and an equally large Chinese worker hand in hand. When Soviet-Chinese relations foundered a few years later, the statue was torn down by a mob.
Kerbel's work is dismissed by many as simply Communist propaganda, however Kerbel claims that he was always more interested in art than politics. Many people now view his few remaining statues with nostalgia, particularly in Chemnitz, where his bust of Karl Marx is referred to as 'the head.'
Another example of Lev Kerbel's sculptures is the Lenin Monument in the Parque Lenin area of Havana, Cuba.
Honours and awards
- Hero of Socialist Labour (1985)
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 3rd class (5 November 1997) - for services to the state and personal contribution to the development of the national fine arts
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (6 May 1993) - for the great achievements in art, to strengthen international cultural relations and fruitful pedagogical activity
- Order of Lenin
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour
- Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd class
- Order of the Red Star
- Lenin Prize (1962) - a monument to Karl Marx Square named after Sverdlov, in Moscow (1961)
- Stalin Prize, 1st class (1950) - sculptural reliefs "C. Lenin and Stalin - oskovateli and leaders of the Soviet state"
- People's Artist of USSR (1977)
- People's Artist of RSFSR (1967)
- Order of Karl Marx (East Germany)
- Goethe Prize winner (Germany)
- Medal "For the Defence of Moscow"
- Medal "For the Defence of the Soviet Transarctic"
- Medal "For the Capture of Berlin"
- Honorary Citizen of Smolensk and Polyarny
- Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
- Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
- Jubilee Medal "Thirty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
- Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
- Jubilee Medal "50 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
- Jubilee Medal "60 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
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