Arkady Shaikhet (1989-1959) was born in 1898 in the city of Nikolaev (Ukraine) in a poor Jewish family. He finished four classes of elementary school, could not enter the gymnasium because of the educational qualification for Jews that existed at that time, and therefore began working as a locksmith’s assistant at the Nikolaev shipbuilding plant. During the civil war, he served in the Red Army in a brass band.
In 1920, Arkady Shaikhet came to Moscow. Works as a retoucher at a private photo studio «Rembrandt» on Sretenka. It was at this time that a prominent Soviet official, Executive Secretary of ROST Dmitry Brazul advised Shaikhet to pay attention to the genre of photo reportage, which had a decisive influence on his future professional career. Soon the first photos of Shaikhet appeared in the then popular «Workers’ newspaper» and the accompanying illustrated application «Screen». In the summer of 1923, he was invited to join the editorial staff of the weekly magazine «Moskovsky Proletariy», and for several years thereafter, his photographs graced the cover and centerfold of this publication. Since 1924, he collaborated with the magazines «Ogonyok», «USSR at the construction site», and «Our achievements», creating a photographic chronicle of the first five-year labor plans.
On behalf of the editorial board, Arkady Shaikhet filmed Lenin’s funeral in 1924. In the same year, he made the first photo report from the May day Parade. Here, for the first time, he begins to use the diagonal construction of the frame, which has become one of the main techniques of avant-garde photographers and a recognizable method of Shaikhet himself. In 1925, Arkady Shaikhet published a series of photographs in «Ogonyok» dedicated to the completion of the Shaturskaya Steam Power Plant. Since the second half of the 1920s, he began to participate in numerous exhibitions, including the all-Union photo exhibition «Soviet photography for 10 years».
The dynamism of the era, which corresponded to ideological slogans, required to saturate the cadres with movement, and this goal was served by the favorite diagonal composition in the works «Ski course of the red army» (1928), «Cyclists on the Red square» (1924) , and others.
To enhance the expressiveness and emphasize the monumentality of the form, Shaikhet often used the lower angle: «Komsomolets at the helm «(1929) thus «elevating» the hero. Hard accurate framing, the ability to compose a fragment vividly and unusually helped the master to embody the symbols of the new universe in the picture.
Shaikhet filmed many significant events in the history of the USSR, in particular the meeting of Chelyuskinites for the newspaper «Pravda» in April 1934. During the great Patriotic war, he worked a lot at the front as a correspondent for the newspaper «Front illustration». Shaikhet’s photos were published in the Newspapers «Pravda», «Krasnaya Zvezda», and «Komsomolskaya Pravda». He recorded military actions on various fronts, including near Moscow, at Stalingrad, on the Kursk Bulge, at the capture of Berlin. According to eyewitnesses, Shaikhet not only filmed on the front line, but also participated in the battles himself. Finally, he was one of those who photographed the meeting of soldiers at the Belorussky railway station in the summer of 1945. In the post-war years, he again mainly worked for «Ogonyok» magazine.
Many of Arkady Shaikhet’s works are in Museum and private collections, and his exhibitions are held both in Russia and abroad.