Sport is one of the oldest themes in art, it was topical in ancient times, when the focus was on a complete harmony of human nature. It was harmony of high intelligence and physical strength. Phidias, Myron, Polykleitos and other sculptors of Antiquity displayed a man in movement during exercise. For many centuries artists did not depict a naked human body, and sport as the subject for art passed away. Since the Renaissance, the image of an athletic man has appeared again, but now in the context of the Christian concept of «man as God's image». Artists in the Soviet Union revived the very ancient concept of «a healthy mind in a healthy body». It was expressed in the idea of «physical culture», in compulsory sports, the program «Ready for Labour and Defence», a serious attitude to the success of athletes at the Olympics. Soviet masters of the brush and cutter were inspired by this new phenomenon which became a work on the future perfect man. Especially it was revealed in sculpture, due to its plasticity and its volume.
Soviet sculptors M. Manizer and his wife E. Janson-Manizer made a great contribution to the development of the sports theme of Soviet sculpture. Large bronze statues and small plaster and bronze figurines reveal the perfection of the human body in sports - box and skating, discus throwing, football, athletics, basketball. Famous athletes posed to the artists, for example, Maria Isakova, world champion in speed skating of 1948, football player Grigory Fedotov, gymnast Donat Kalabin. E. Yanson-Manizer wrote: «Together we set the same goal - <...> to make the images of our cheerful young men and women, healthy, flexible and strong» (Yanson-Manizer EA. ", 1938. pp. 86-87).
M. Manizer, E. Krandievskaya, A. Kryzhanovskaya executed porcelain medallions for the lobby of the Moscow metro station «Dynamo», statues in the parks of culture and recreation and small decorative interior sculptures. They were created in the context of the Soviet epoch, but they still show the image of perfect, athletic man and still do not lose their actual meaning.
E. Yanson-Manizer. Panel «Weightlifter» for the metro station «Dynamo» in Moscow.
Porcelain, Leningrad Porcelain Factory, 1953. D=1 m. The width at the highest point of the relief is within 20 cm.
The panel is made of porcelain and faience. Apparently, the mass for manufacturing these panels for the metro station was developed specifically. The series of sportsmen was made at the Leningrad Porcelain Factory in 1953. After the war, it was necessary to increase the length of the stations in Moscow because the number of wagons in the Moscow subway system increased. Moreover, the USSR entered the international sports arena with a series of victories and records which had to be perpetuated. The most recognized sculptor in the subject of sports was Elena Yanson-Manizer, she was ordered to design the medallions for the metro station «Dynamo». On the front side of the panel «Weightlifter» there is an author's signature: «E. Yanson-Manizer, 1953». The prototype of the weightlifter was the real weightlifting champion Yevgeny Lopatin. The sculptor gave him one of the copies of the panel. In 2011, there was started the reconstruction of the Dynamo stadium, and after the demolition of the building one of the workers managed to save the panel.