Michael Solomon Losakov

Michael Solomon Losakov (born Shloim-Meilihua Losakov) was born in Orhei [Orgeyev], Bessarabia [then in the Russian Empire; later Romania; now Moldova] in 1882 to an artistic Jewish family of four children. His father, Menachem-Meer Losakov (b.? – d.1914), was an Orhei photographer who owned a shop in the town before WWI. Michael Losakov attended art school in Chisinau and moved back to Orhei, where he organised a popular Jewish amateur dramatics society – the circle of “Fans of the Jewish Theatre” – in the early 1900s and was involved in staging contemporary Yiddish plays. He was drafted at the start of the First World War and served on the front, but was wounded and demobilized in his first year of service. He returned to Orhei, where he ran the photography studio that remained after his father's recent death. Between 1920 and 1926 Losakov – a very charismatic and popular figure – continued to lead the Jewish drama circle in Orhei, and also acted on the Russian theatre stage. Solomon Losakov is registered in the Bessarabia Business Directory of 1924-1925 as having a photography shop on 154 Targului in Orhei so it appears that he continued to run the family business alongside his theatrical activities.

In 1926 Losakov followed his younger brother Ary [Arkady] to Paris, where he joined the artists of the Paris School. In 1940 he returned to Bessarabia to visit family, but was forced to remain there when Bessarabia was occupied by the USSR.

The photos we have by ‘M. Losakov’ are dated 1939 and depict the ORT school in Orhei [see images]. It is therefore not clear if the studio was being run by someone else during Losakov’s absence – perhaps his sister Mania Loshakov-Serebrenik – or if the date of his return to Orhei is inaccurate.

At the outbreak of war in Bessarabia (July 1941) Losakov was evacuated with his younger brother, Boris, to Uzbekistan, from where he arrived in Chelyabinsk in 1943. He joined the branch of the Union of Artists of the USSR and taught art in several studios and schools between 1944 and 1948. In 1948, following a state inspection of his studio, Losakov was accused of lack of ideology, inconsistency in children's drawings and servility to the West and was consequently fired. His final fate is unknown.