Biography

Georgy Petrussov (1903-1971) was a pioneer of Soviet photography whose work appeared in such publications as Pravda, Izvestia, and USSR in Construction. He was known for his method of long photo observation that valued well-planned compositions and extensive, thoughtful preparation before taking the photo.

Petrussov was born in Rostov-on-Don. He took up photography as a hobby at 14, though after finishing his education, he worked as a bookkeeper at Prombank’s Rostov branch. He moved to Moscow at age 21 where he began photographing professionally for newspapers such as Trud, Metallist and Pravda. Among his Pravda assignments 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 he 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. Petrussov took many of the photographs in this publication from unusual perspectives and that he often documented scenes of industry and labor reveals his interest in Constructivist themes. In one photo taken around 1933 Petrussov even uses as a subject his good friend Alexander Rodchenko, a man remembered today as a leading figure among Constructivist photographers. A year later, he photographed among his most well-known works, the Dnepr Hydroelectric Dam construction project.

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.