Biography

Georgy Petrussov (1903-1971) was born in Rostov-on-Don and took up photography as a hobby at age 14. After several years of work as a bank bookkeeper in his hometown, he moved to Moscow to begin his career as a professional photojournalist. By 21, he was contributing to newspapers such as TrudMetallist and Pravda. Among his assignments for Pravda was a 1928-1930 photoshoot of the construction of the massive Magnitogorsk metallurgical plant in the Urals. The People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry would award him a car for the Magnitogorsk project, as well as for his photographs of the Gorky Car Factory.

In 1930 Petrussov began contributing to USSR in Construction, a publication dedicated to promoting advances in Soviet industry and culture. Other avant-garde contributors included Alexander Rodchenko, Varvara Stepanova and El Lissitzky. Characteristic of the magazine’s goals, Petrussov often contributed heroic scenes of industry and labor. Among his photography projects was a 1934 story about the massive construction of the Dnepr Hydroelectric Dam.

Working alongside the period’s generation of Constructivist photographers and artists, Petrussov’s creative method was distinguished by the lengthy attention he dedicated to his subject matter before taking the photograph. The impeccable geometry in his compositions is evidence of this carefully planning. In the 1934 Armenian Delegation, Petrussov masterfully balances contrasts of light and dark, while the figures’ backs create a grid-like pattern across the composition.

During World War II Petrussov served as a war photographer for Izvestia and the Soviet Information Bureau. He also published an album of photographs showing Berlin in the days immediately after peace was declared.

When Petrussov returned to Moscow, he began photographing the Bolshoi ballet. He produced over a thousand performance images spanning 1945 to 1957. For the next 18 years of his life and up until his death, he worked for Soviet Life, a magazine published in the United States by the Novosti Agency. In 1969, he revisited Berlin and published his album entitled Two Meetings with Berlin. He died in 1971 in Moscow.