Konenkov was often called 'the Russian Rodin'. He was born to a peasant family in Karakovichi in Smolensk province. He studied
at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, graduating in 1897, and at the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts.
His diploma work at the Academy - a huge clay statue of Samson tearing the chains - broke most existing laws of academic art and
put him at odds with his teachers, who apparently destroyed the work with hammers.
He subsequently travelled to Italy, France, Egypt, Greece, and Germany.
During the Russian revolution of 1905 Konenkov stood with the workers on the barricades. Konenkov later supported the
Russian Revolution of 1917. In 1922 Konenkov married Margarita Ivanovna Vorontsova, and in 1923 they travelled to the USA to
take part in an exhibition of Russian and Soviet art.
The trip was supposed to last for a few months, but Konenkov stayed in the
States for 22 years, living and working in New York.