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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sculptor Lev Kerbel Dead at 85

Lev Kerbel, one of the premier sculptors of Socialist realist works whose statues of Lenin once graced city squares across the Eastern bloc, has died, NTV television reported Thursday. He was 85.

The report did not say where or when Kerbel died or give a cause of death.

Kerbel gave a lengthy interview to The New York Times in June, when he was said to be working busily in his Moscow studio on his latest project, a sculpture of Peter the Great for a pedestal in Kaliningrad.

Kerbel created many Marxes and Lenins, including the most celebrated ones. Many were pulled down with the fall of the Soviet Union, but others still stand, such as the giant Lenin that towers over Oktyabrskaya Ploshchad on a marble column.

A prolific sculptor, he also turned out dozens of Yury Gagarins and used his art to honor World War II sacrifice and Soviet labor.

In the newspaper interview, he said he was fixated by Lenin.

"He was in my head and in my heart," Kerbel said. "He required more and more artistic content. I was always interested in the image."

Kerbel was born in Ukraine on Nov. 7, 1917, Oct. 25 in the old calendar and the day Lenin seized the Winter Palace and began the Russian Revolution.

His mother gave birth to him in a barrel while hiding from a progrom against the Jews, he told The New York Times.