Nikolai Getman, artist and gulag survivor, dies at 86

Washington, DC — For Immediate Release

It is with deep sorrow that the Jamestown Foundation announces the death of its long-time friend, artist Nikolai Getman. Mr. Nikolai Ivanovich Getman (born December 23, 1917) passed away on Sunday, August 29 at his home in Orel, Russia after years of battling prostate cancer. A survivor of the Soviet Gulag, Getman is responsible for painting the only visual record known to exist from the tragic phenomenon that claimed the lives of an estimated 50 million people. Getman is survived by his son and step-daughter.

Getman spent eight years in Siberia at the Kolyma labor camps where he witnessed firsthand one of the darkest periods of Soviet history. Although he survived the camps, the horrors of the Gulag seared into his memory. Upon his release in 1954, Getman commenced a public career as a politically correct painter. Secretly, however, for more than four decades, Getman labored at creating a visual record of the Gulag which vividly depicts all aspects of the horrendous life (and death) which so many innocent millions experienced during that infamous era.

In 1997, Getman asked the Jamestown Foundation to assist him in moving the paintings to a place of safety in the West, arranging their display there, and developing a plan for their preservation as a part of the historical record. Getman’s deeply personal work stands as a stark reminder of the horrors of the Soviet Gulag, and the Jamestown Foundation has proudly honored its commitment to Mr. Getman. For inquiries about Getman and his collection please contact the Jamestown Foundation at (202) 483-8888 or click here to see an electronic version of the collection.