Sunday, 30 September 2012

Russian author of Holocaust novel scoops global literary award

Russian author Ludmila Ulitskaya won the Park Kyung-ni literary prize for her book 'Daniel Stein, Interpreter.' Contenders for the Korean award included British-Indian writer Salman Rushdie, and American author and activist Alice Walker.
Ulitskaya's most recent book translated into English tells the story of a Polish Jew who devotes himself to God after surviving the horrors of the Nazi regime, during which he saved lives by working as an interpreter for the Gestapo. The plot, based on a true story, took inspiration from a person whom Ulitskaya once knew and admired. 
The 69-year-old Ulitskaya is the author of 14 books of fiction and six plays staged by a number of theaters in Russia and in Germany. She began her literary career late in life – after graduating from Moscow University with a Degree of Masters in Biology, she first worked as a scientist in the Institute of Genetics. Her first short novel, 'Sonechka,' was published in 1992 and immediately shortlisted for the Russian Booker Award. She went on to win an array of awards, including Italy's Penne Prize and France's Simone de Beauvoir Prize, to name a few. 
The Park Kyung-ni Prize was established to honor the late Korean novelist of the same name, one of the most revered writers in South Korea.

Socialist realism: The History of Russian art in 15 paintings. Part II

Through years the social realism was the only legitimate artistic style in the Soviet Union. After the perestroika in the mid 70s, the Soviet ways were wryly criticized, the paintings, which only recently were considered to be model, mocked and laughed at and their painters stigmatized as the “voice of the blood-thirsty regime.”

“I’ve painted everything from life. I’ve only broadened the doorway a little and transformed a monastery yard into a square of a small provincial town. Everything else has fitted all right. I was not squeamish about painting worn and rotten boards and a cracked wall. The work lasted two summer seasons, two sunny summers, such summers are a rare occurrence.”
Alexander Laktionov

During the preparation for the all-Union art exhibition in 1947, the painting was criticized. A representative of the Committee on the Arts said that “there should not be such floors in the Soviet reality”. As a result, the picture was hung in a narrow, dark passage. But very soon it occupied a fitting place in the hall, because that was the wish of the audience. The picture was an unbelievable success. When it was hanging in the corridor, it was so crowded there that guides complained it was impossible to lead a group past the painting by Laktionov. Three-quarters of all the entries in the visitors' book recognized the Letter From the Front - the best painting at the exhibition.

“The fact that I kept changing genres of creative work is not my fault (if it is a fault); this is the law of time, but probably I remained myself in essence. I know that tomorrow will give something new to me that will form the basis of my works, and I sincerely want this new to be deeply humane and beautiful. I understand painting, fine painting, but I prefer drawing form. While others know much about subtle nuances of tone and are absolutely indifferent to gross distortions of form, I am, on the contrary, very sensitive to subtle forms of rhythm and satisfied with simple color solutions.”
Alexander Deineka

State Reception in the Kremlin on May 24, 1945 by Dmitry Nalbandian

State Reception in the Kremlin on May 24, 1945 by Dmitry Nalbandian

Photo: the museum-workshop of people's artist of the USSR D. A. Nalbandian
“Stalin executed a few artists. At first they were summoned to the Kremlin in order to immortalize the leader and teacher. And obviously they failed to please the leader. Stalin wanted to be tall. And the hands should be the same length.

Artist Nalbandian outwitted everybody. On his portrait, Stalin with his hands folded somewhere on the stomach makes it straight towards the spectator. The view is taken from below.From this angle, even a midget seems a giant. Nalbandian followed Mayakovski’s advice: an artist should look at a model like a duck looks at a balcony. And from this duck’s position Nalbandian painted the portrait of Stalin. Stalin was greatly pleased. Reproductions of the portrait were hung in all institutions - even in hairdressing salons and in bathhouses.”

More here.

Four of Us: Akhmatova, Mandelshtam, Pasternak, Tsvetaeva

I asked her, “Did you dictate
Dante’s Hell?” She said, “I did.”

— Anna Akhmatova, “Muse” (1924)
Translations are necessarily “once again,” and in English can work naturally within a Wordsworthian tradition where “was” is “for this,” and a sense of tradition, far from a struggle for priority, is impelled by recurrence: what happened once is happening again and, happening again, is happening differently. This recognition of recurrence complements Walter Benjamin’s understanding of translation as the Überleben (afterlife or survival), the Forteleben (continuing life) of the translated poem. It also translates a recurring motif in Russian poetry of the last century (at least among those poets, more radical than revolutionary, who distinguished originality from futurism). Anna Akhmatova imagined that her muse was also Dante’s, an inspiration independent of Russian. “[E]very language has something that belongs to it alone,” Marina Tsvetaeva thought, but as she wrote to Rilke in 1926, “the reason one becomes a poet is to avoid being French, Russian, etc. in order to be everything.” Poetry begins as a “moan” in a “mother tongue”: “What is poetry but translating from a mother tongue into a foreign one… No language is the mother tongue. Writing poetry is rewriting it… A poet may write in French, but he cannot be a French poet.” By the same logic, this mother tongue from its translation initially into Russian may then translate as well into English.

For Tsvetaeva, the commonplace that translation is impossible coexists with the recognition that for any poet translation is a given. Assuming the probability that the commonplace is not wrong, what apparently occurs in translation is the realization of an impossibility. Toward the end of his life, John Cage found a way to use impossibility pragmatically in order to assure an open form in his music. Scoring 100 microtones between C and C-sharp, for example, he asked violinists to play the 42nd interval in between. An impossibility, but the music depends on the performer’s willingness to search for the impossibility as if it could be played (pragmatically a mathematical sublime). Translation might offer open forms in this sense as well. In the introduction to her beautiful translations of Tsvetaeva, Nina Kossman recalls how Tsvetaeva also embraced impossibility: “My difficulty,” Tsvetaeva wrote near the end of her life, “… is in the impossibility of my aim… with words (that is, with meanings) to express a moan: ah-ah-ah.”

Osip Mandelshtam might have called Tsvetaeva’s “moan” an initial articulation of the poetic impulse (порывь. Nadezhda Mandelshtam notes that for Mandelshtam and Akhmatova the impulse announced itself, not as a moan, but as a humming, but in a 1926 letter to Tsvetaeva, Boris Pasternak also speaks of the “moan” as “the loudest sound of the universe”: “I am inclined to believe that outer space is filled with this sound rather than with the music of the spheres. I hear it. I cannot reproduce it”). … what apparently occurs in translation is the realization of an impossibility. In a 1933 essay on Dante, Mandelshtam wrote that for poetry to be poetry, there must be an impulse that is not susceptible to paraphrase and whose absence is a sure sign that “the sheets have never been rumpled” and that “poetry has never spent the night.” In and of itself this impulse is “mute”; it sounds verbally in the poem through “the modulation we hear and sense in the prosodic instruments of poetic speech in its instananeous flow.” A task for Mandelshtam’s translators will be to find modulations that his poetry can impel in the spontaneous flow of an alien tongue. Mandelshtam was confident that this was possible. In a 1932 poem “To the German Language” which reads in retrospect like a proleptic address to Paul Celan, Mandelshtam wrote:

An alien tongue will be my membrane
just as once, before I had the daring
to be born, I was a letter first, a vineyard
line, a book you dreamed of…

Sounds have narrowed, the words hiss and mutiny,
but you are living, and from you I am composed.

Pasternak wote in Safe Conduct (1928): “that as distinct from science, which takes nature in the section of a shaft of light, art is interested in life at the moment when the beam of energy passes through it. When the signs of this condition are translated onto paper… there is a terminology for them. They are called devices.” Pasternak described the work of this “energy” or impulse in Doctor Zhivago as characteristic of poetic practice:

Language… itself begins to think and speak… and turns wholly into music, not in terms of sonority but in terms of the impetuousness and power of its inward flow… [T]he flow in speech creates in passing, by virtue of its own laws, meter and rhythm and countless forms and formations, which are even more important, but which are as yet unexplored, insufficiently recognized, and unnamed.

A task for Pasternak’s English translators will be to find this “flow in speech” as it carries from Russian into English. “Like the original,” Pasternak wrote of his own translations of Shakespeare (1956), “the translation must create an impression of life… a shorthand of the spirit” (as Elena Glazov-Corrigan has suggested, “spirit,” дух and “impulse,” порывь can be regarded as synonyms in this context, translations of the Greek, Πνευμα).

More here.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

'A Russian Night' (Hélène Grimaud; Claudio Abbado, 22.08.2008)

Socialist realism: The History of Russian art in 15 paintings

Execution of the Twenty-Six Baku Commissars by Isaak Brodsky, 1925
Execution of the Twenty-Six Baku Commissars by Isaak Brodsky, 1925

Over a span of several decades social realism dominated and was in fact the only legitimate artistic style in the Soviet Union. Artists were to mirror reality as it was, “in its historic and revolutionary development” and in conformity with the “task of ideological transformation and education of workers in the spirit of socialism.”

After the perestroika in the mid 70s, the Soviet ways were wryly criticized, the paintings, which only recently were considered to be model, mocked and laughed at and their painters stigmatized as the “voice of the blood-thirsty regime.”

It is remarkable how artists took such eager criticism. For instance, Vladimir Gremitsky who painted the world-famous portraits of Soviet leaders, including Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov, “would hit the roof each time he heard the word ‘socialist,’” his son Alexander said. “So, I’m a social realist,” he would spurt out, “And Velasquez is a late feudal one, and Rembrandt is an early capitalist one, right? Nonsense! Total rubbish! Stop pinning labels. You say we painted on orders. And you think Velazquez fooled around the town with his easel and – bam! – The Pope right in his way. And he was like ‘hey, what a good model to paint. I’ll totally do without any royalties, because I’m a free artist.”

There are many ways to treat social realism. But one can’t deny that, despite its political and social context, it was a great school of art, the best realism art school of the 20th century.

“I took after Repin in his attitude to art, in his love and serious approach towards creativity as the métier for life.”

Isaak Brodsky

“Oh, how lavish and boring is his life! You stumble across Lenin’s portraits of all colors and sizes, big and small, hanging all around the hall, while the execution of Baku commissars haunts you in the dining room, which he uses as his studio… Brodsky is very nice, though. To live a good, prosperous life and afford buying paintings you evidently have to draw executions and craft Lenins, Lenins, Lenins… Again, a petty bourgeois who is trying to protect his right to a petty bourgeois life, hiding behind an alien psychology at all times…
I thought about that slender, graceful, young artist, whose portraits and panel pictures used to have such unmatchable music to them. His talent vanished for good, together with his wisp waist and pale complexion.”

Kornei Tschukovsky, a writer

“Brodsky’s Soviet-era works showed deep, avant-guard ideological traits. Brodsky encompassed Soviet art as a realist painter, who dedicated his entire life to revolution and whose works reflected real revolutionary events and portrayed outstanding Bolshevik and Soviet leaders.”
An extract from the artist’s biography, 1956

“I call Samokhvalov an outstanding artist because his artistic gift is of universal nature. It transcends even the existing variety of fine arts, in which he’s proven himself as a creative artist whose works include many great easel paintings, wonderful illustrations, statuettes and remarkable theatre works. Might be, this universality allowed him to create his own style as a sort of unique concept that pervaded all his works. You can immediately recognize Samokhvalov’s hand in drawings, and paintings, and sculptures, and decorative patterns, in everything he ever bestowed his creativity upon.”

More here.

The Wild Twisted River of Russia

The Wild Twisted River of Russia: Kotuikan river is located in the Krasnoyarsk region of Russia. It is 237 km (147 miles) long. Its catchment area is almost four thousand square kilometres (2,5 thousand of miles). In summer the river becomes more shallow and its body … Read more...

Rebelling without a cause

Searching for a life with meaning and purpose, twenty-year-old Artur Kara visits a series of political groups in Moscow, encountering former prisoners from Guantanamo at the headquarters of the Islamic Committee or literary dreamers among the National Bolsheviks. Unable to find a group he wants to join, he plans his own revolution.

The comic element in Khasavov’s writing rescues it from drowning in adolescent self-absorption. It is unlikely that young writers emerging from western schools of creative writing would dare to make their hero a wannabe-author, but Kara’s opening lines are a fantasy about his future fame as “the writer of brilliant books”; his pseudo-autobiographical admissions are intimate and awkwardly funny.

Prolific translator Arch Tait (who has also translated novels by literary-bestseller Ludmila Ulitskaya), brilliantly conveys the hero’s stylistic pretentions, alongside other registers from ideological jargon to celebrity LiveJournal blogs. Tait has commented on Khasavov’s “sense of irony and humor” and his ability to “distance himself from his hero’s social preoccupations and hyperbole.” In many ways, the alienation young Kara feels is the classic confusion of any misfit teenager, quoting Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, struggling to find a place in an uncaring society. The gap between Kara’s ambition and his life provides both comedy and pathos. A poor Muslim boy with a limp, he sees himself as a glamorous revolutionary leader. Sitting in a suburban Moscow park, he reflects on the difficulty of his chosen path, “the path of a Samurai, of an infinitely lonely man who has chosen to be lonely. And here is that man now … finishing what remains of his hot dog.” His manifesto includes principles like using human sewage to heat apartments, or compulsory public nudity.

Kara’s ultimate goal is immortality at whatever cost. He regularly daydreams about his successful future life, where “palaces await me with luxuriant gardens.” At the same time, he is contemptuous of the material aspirations he imagines for the workers in Moscow’s new sky-scraping business complex “package holidays in Goa … high-definition TVs.” They will “buy everything that can be bought,” he says, but always want something more: “If they have a car, they will want a yacht. If they have a wife, they will want a mistress. They will substitute money for God...”

More here.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Vladimir Voinovich: "I've allowed nobody to pin myself to the mat"

On September 26th the well-known writer Vladimir Voinovich, who is also known as “Satirist No.1” in the post-Soviet literature, will celebrate his 80th birthday.

Voinovich spent his pre-jubilee days in the Black Sea resort of Anapa, where he arrived to work: the writer headed the jury of the “Kinoshock film festival there. He saw several films every day, gave interviews, edited the texts, and actively swam. A year ago he demonstrated his courage when he decided to stand at the wheel of a plane - he did that and took off! In an interview with the Voice of Russia the writer says about this with pleasure.
Asked whether he would like to make a flight, Voinovich said: “Yes, of course.” “So we went to a place far from Moscow that proved to be a private aero club, and I took off. It came as a surprise to me that I can do that”, Voinovich continued.

Although Voinovich has not taken off for 60 years since he studied at the aero club, he was not afraid:

“When I was young I had a passion for wrestling but I had neither ambitions nor a dream to pin somebody to the mat. The main thing for me was not to allow others to do that with me. I have never had any wish to fight against the Soviet power either. It was the first to begin fighting against me, and the only thing I had to do was to offer resistance since I did not want anybody to pin me to the mat.”

Vladimir Voinovich was expelled from the former USSR in 1980 and was deprived citizenship. This is how his country took revenge on him for his letters in the defence of dissidents and for his wonderful satirical novel “The Life and Extraordinary Adventures of Private Ivan Chonkin” that was illegally published in Germany and France. Later, when thanks to perestroika it was published in Russia, it caused a great interest here, and everybody read it with great pleasure.

More here.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Shostakovich - "Testimony": The movie about his life

Director: Tony Palmer
Writers: Tony Palmer, David Rudkin, Tony Palmer
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Sherry Baines,Magdalen Asquith


Testimony: The Story of Shostakovich is a 1987 British musical drama film directed by Tony Palmer and starring Ben Kingsley, Sherry Baines and Robert Stephens. The film is based on the memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich (1906–1975) as dictated in the book Testimony (edited by Solomon Volkov) and filmed in Panavision. Some consider the book to be a fabrication.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Flying Over the Kremlin

Flying Over the Kremlin: The Kremlin in the city of Kazan is a unique historical, architectural and cultural complex which combines both Christian and Moslim, Russian and Tatar motives. The Kremlin is situated on the high left bank of the Volga river and left … Read more...

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Kondratyeva and Liepa in Gluck's Adagio (1978)

Maris Liepa - Biography

Liepa was the principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and a man of principle.

Born on 27 July in Riga, Latvia Maris was a sickly child. His mother wanted him to become a doctor. But with the intention of improving his health the child was taken to the Latvian Opera and Ballet school. His father, Edward Liepa, was an opera singer but had lost his voice at an early age and became a stage engineer at the Latvian National Opera. Edard Liepa had many theatrical friends who suggested dancing would help strengthen his son’s health.

Funnily enough Maris Liepa’s stage debut was in an opera. He sang in a boys’ choir in “Carmen” at the Riga Opera and Ballet Theater where his father used to perform. By the age of 13 Maris had already danced parts in three children’s ballets and several adult ballets including “Don Quixote” and “Romeo and Juliet.”

Along with ballet Maris practiced sports, gymnastics and swimming. He was Latvia’s repeated champion in free style swimming, which left him with a radiculitis. In 1950 Maris debuted in Moscow at the All-Union Conference of Choreographic Schools. He was noticed by the city’s ballet teachers and accepted in the Moscow Choreographic School. His teachers thought he would become a character dancer but in 1955 Maris graduated with pas de deux from “Don Quixote” and established his career as a classical dancer.

Liepa wanted to stay in Moscow but the Ministry of Culture insisted he return to Riga. After several successful performances in Riga and on tour, Maris finally accepted an invitation to join the Moscow Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater. In four seasons with the musical theater he performed leading roles in “Esmeralda,” “Le Corsaire,” “Joan d’Arc” and many more.

Finally in the summer of 1960 Maris Liepa was invited to dance with the Bolshoi ballet group, first on a tour of Poland and then on Moscow’s main ballet stage at the Bolshoi itself. He debuted in the role of Bazil in “Don Quixote” with Maya Plisetskaya. Soon he danced the most crucial part of his career, the part of Count Alert in “Giselle.” A bravura technician of the Bolshoi, Liepa worked with the theater from 1960 till 1981. He was the embodiment of the masculine heroic style that was peculiar to Bolshoi dancers. His fame was known around the world.

When the Bolshoi acquired a new Ballet Master, Yury Grigorovich, Liepa’s career in the theater took a turn. The premier of Grigorivich’s production of “Spartacus” brought Liepa immortal fame and in 1970 Liepa’s portrayal of Krass earned him the Lenin Prize, the Soviet Union’s top award in the filed of arts and literature. But after dancing in several re-staged performances, Liepa published an article in “Pravda” newspaper criticizing Grigorovich’s management methods; afterwards he was deprived of a chance to perform in new productions.

He played his last large role with the theater in 1977. But for a man of principle the art of the ballet was more important than being the Bolshoi’s principal dancer. After parting with the theater Liepa started to combine theater work with choreographing and acting. He played in several Russian and foreign films (“The Tomb of the Lion,” “Bembi’s Childhood,” “Bembi’s Youth,” “Lermontov,” “The Fourth”) and wrote articles (“I Want to Dance for 100 Years” (1980) and “Today and Tomorrow in Ballet. Maris Liepa” (1986).

More here.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Chopiniana - Ekaterina Maximova - Vladimir Vasiliev - Nina Timofeyeva 1974

Vladimir Vysotsky (1938-1980)

'I want to state and assure you, that author's song demands great work. This song is always living with you, never giving you rest.' -Vysotsky said.

One had to live several lives to feel keenly all the personages featured in his songs. These songs generally fall into topical cycles, such as war, mountain, sport, Chinese and other cycles. People who had fough at war would think that Vysotsky himself had experienced what he wrote about in his songs - so true to life and sincere his songs are. Prisoners, seamen, alpinists, and drivers - all would think he was one of them through and through.

Vysotsky's songs are mostly monologues by all kinds of characters: hooligans, average citizens, fairy heroes, etc., in his last years these soliloquies were on his own behalf. This original mixture expressed Vysotsky's essential features, both artistic and personal. The same blend we find in his best parts on stage (Hamlet and Galileo) and on screen (geologist in the movie 'Short Meetings', radio operator in 'Vertical', etc.).

It seems right to say that the unheard-of nation-wide love Vysotsky gained was to a great extent conditioned by the social and political situation of that time. The dull epoch of zastoi (stagnation) seemed to last forever. The feeling of hopelessness, suppression of any initiative and sheer poverty made people plunge into inebriety, cynicism, double morality and secret backbiting of the authorities. All this was revealed in Vysotsky's characters. He was the one who openly spoke about how the country was living in reality. He mocked at and grieved at the same things that millions of people were spiteful and sad about. He was the one speaking for all.

Some still argue about whether Vysotsky was more of a poet or an actor. Some claim that his songs and verses are rather mediocre and it was only his bright performance that made them worthy. Others state that hardly any of Vysotsky's parts on stage and in cinema can be compared to originality and talent of his songs.

More here.

Summer Shore of the White Sea

Summer Shore of the White Sea: One can get here only by plane. Several times in a summer a barge sails here too, but nobody knows its schedule so it doesn’t count. Here, at the shore of the White Sea, is a village and a river … Read more...

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Ivan Vasiliev conquers America

Ivan Vasiliev, principal dancer with the Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet Company, has become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater (ABT) for the 2013 season. The artist began his cooperation with the famed American company in 2011, and he now holds the same status as Natalia Osipova, his wife and dance partner. Vasiliev’s new status at the American Ballet Theater was announced by ABT Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie, who emphasized that Vasiliev will remain a principal at the Mikhailovsky Theatre. 

The ABT’s main season runs from May to July on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera. In addition, the company has a full tour schedule. This configuration of the ballet season allows leading dancers from European theatres to perform abroad as well as at home. Founded in New York in 1937, the ABT has been and remains one of the major centres of the ballet world. The ABT was also the first American ballet company to perform in the Soviet Union, back in 1960. Since the beginning of the 1990s, outstanding artists from Russia have danced with the ABT regularly and with great success. ABT premiers have been graced by principal dancers Farukh Ruzimatov, Igor Zelensky, and Bolshoi Theatre star Nina Ananiashvili. Diana Vishneva has been a prima ballerina with the American Ballet Theater since 2005. 

At the ABT, Vasiliev’s repertoire includes Solor in La Bayadère, Pyotr in The Limpid Stream, Franz in Coppélia, and Ali in Le Corsaire. His pas de deux with Natalia Osipova in The Flames of Paris enjoys great success overseas. At the Mikhailovsky Theatre, Vasiliev performs in Don Quixote, La Bayadère, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Laurencia, and other ballets in the company’s repertoire. 

Ivan Vasiliev, Principal dancer  with the Mikhailovsky Ballet, has been named a Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, effective immediately, it was announced today by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie.  He is scheduled to perform during  the 2013 Metropolitan Opera House season and on ABT’s national and  international tours.
Born in Vladivostok, Russia, Vasiliev studied at the Dnepropetrovsk Ballet School in Ukraine and later at the Belarusian State Choreographic College in Minsk, graduating in 2006.
In 2006 he was invited to join the Bolshoi Ballet as a soloist, making his debut with the company as Basilio in Don Quixote.   He was promoted to the rank of principal dancer in May 2010.  Vasiliev’s repertoire with the Bolshoi includes the title role in Spartacus, the Nutcracker-Prince in The Nutcracker, Colas in Sir Frederick Ashton’s  La Fille Mal Gardée, Solor and The Golden Idol in La Bayadère, Conrad and the pas d’esclaves inLe Corsaire, Philippe in Alexei Ratmansky’s The Flames of Paris, Acteon in Yuri Burlaka’s La Esmeralda, The Young Man in Roland Petit’s Le Jeune Homme et la Mort and featured roles in Christopher Wheeldon’s Misericordes and Asaf Messerer’s Class Concert.
Vasiliev has appeared as a guest artist with the International Rudolf  Nureyev Festival in Kazan and the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater.   Since 2009 he has been a member of the cast of Kings of the Dance.  In  December 2011 he joined the Mikhailovsky Ballet as a principal dancer.
His awards include the Bronze medal at the Varna International Ballet  Competition (2004), the Gold medal at the Moscow International Ballet  Competition (2005), the Gold medal at the Arabesque-96 Ballet  Competition in Perm (2006), and the Grand Prix – Varna International  Ballet Competition (2006).  He is also the winner of the Triumph Youth  prize (2006), British Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards in the  category ‘Spotlight’ (2008) and as Best Male Dancer (2010), and the  Benois de la Danse prize for his performance in Le Corsaire and The Flames of Paris (2009).  In 2011 he received Grand Prix at the International Dance Open Festival.
Vasiliev first appeared as a Guest Artist with American Ballet Theatre in 2011.  His repertoire with ABT includes Solor in La Bayadère, Pyotr inThe Bright Stream, Franz in Coppélia, Ali, the Slave in Le Corsaire and the Flames of Paris pas de deux.

Lives Of The Poets Russia's Anna Akhmatova And Marina Tsvetaeva

Poets Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeva both experienced the bittersweet and privileged, "never-to-be-returned-to" Russian childhood of the fin de siecle, when children were attended by nurses, maids carried "trays, tea sets, water bottles-even whole baked pies. . ." and funeral processions were the spectacles recorded by Pushkin, with choirs of young boys, priests burning incense, coffins draped with living flowers, stately blinkered horses, officers of the Guard, gentlemen wearing opera hats, everything bathed in the glow of lanterns.
Akhmatova's story has become fixed as hagiography; what we know of her childhood comes from poems, a thin body of autobiographical prose and the memoirs and diaries of her contemporaries. She was born Anna Andreyevna Gorenko in 1889, the third of six children in a modest gentry family. Her mother's ancestors had been well-planted in the aristocracy since the 15th Century; her father's family had only attained high rank through her grandfather's service in the navy.
Her parents, in their youth, had contact with the outlawed political movement, the People's Will, but they were not intellectuals. A volume of Nekrasov's poetry was the only book in their household, and that had been a present to her mother from her first husband, who had shot himself. Her father, a naval officer, eventually left the family to live with the widow of an admiral. As a girl Akhmatova was regarded as an outsider. Somehow she got hold of poetry, Baudelaire, Voltaire, the poets maudits.
In the 1930s, as an emigre in Paris, Tsvetaeva composed a series of autobiographical essays, and these, along with the memoirs of her sister, Anastasiya, have established the configuration of the Tsvetaeva legend. Born in Moscow in 1892, she came from an artistic and scholarly family. Her mother was a pianist who did not perform because of social constraints but instilled music in the household. Her father, son of a village priest, was a professor of art history at the University of Moscow and founder of the first Russian sculpture museum.
Tsvetaeva began to play the piano at age 4, but from the beginning she sensed that music belonged to her mother while her identity would be welded to words. She was educated first by tutors and then at boarding schools in Switzerland and Germany while her mother was treated for the consumption from which she would die in 1906.
The lives of the two poets echoed each other as they entered adulthood-at a time when the events that would lead to war, revolution and civil war were being felt only as a vague undertow. In 1910 Tsvetaeva arranged to have her first book, "Evening Album," printed privately in Moscow. Akhmatova was married that year to a childhood friend of her brother Andrey, Nikolay Gumilyov, an adventurer, critic and poet, editor of several literary journals and founder of the Acmeist movement. He was one of the first to praise Tsvetaeva's work.

In 1912 Tsvetaeva married Sergey Efron, the son of revolutionary parents; she was pregnant at the time of the wedding. That same year Akhmatova published her first book, titled "Evening." In the fall she gave birth to a son. Both women had chosen young husbands, although Gumilyov, already a central figure in the Russian avant-garde, may have acted as Pygmalion to Akhmatova, while Efron, boyishly handsome, idealistic, shy, appears to have been a weaker partner.
Akhmatova quickly became a celebrity in the Petersburg cabarets, where young poets such as Mandelstam, Mayakovsky and Kuzmin mingled with artists and composers. Tsvetaeva was associated with Moscow, her father's museum, the large house on Three Pond Lane that was in the background of much of her writing. Akhmatova left her son to be raised by her husband's mother and aunt while she established herself as a poet. Tsvetaeva's daughter, Ariadna or Alya, was tended by nurses and maids.
Through her poems and her demeanor, Akhmatova constructed an image (which included choosing for herself a name that linked her to Tatar nobility and Genghis Khan) of stately, fragile and tormented love. Tsvetaeva was swept up by uncontrollable passions for men and women (years afterward she referred to the demise of her first lesbian affair, with the writer Sofiya Parnok, as "the hour of my first catastrophe").
By 1917, the last year of the war and the year of the Revolution, the Akhmatova-Gumilyov marriage, which had always been "free," disintegrated. Tsvetaeva, who had just given birth to a second daughter, Irina, was in Moscow, cut off from Efron, who had joined the White Guard to fight the Bolsheviks.
More here.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

New Russian writers reflect modern society

Contemporary writers in Russia are finding new themes that reflect modern society but the giants of the past still have an influence.
Over the past 20 years, Russian contemporary writers have been trying to find their place in a new reality. The task is Herculean because modern writers are expected on the one hand to follow a great literary tradition, but at the same time to interpret modern society.
This struggle reveals itself through seven themes.
Prison and war
There are two extreme situations that frequently recur in Russian literature: prison and war. Generally, any author who writes about prison has their work compared to the standard bearers, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, by Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov.

Andrei Rubanov is a popular contemporary author whose topical novels explore self-transformation in prison, which sets his work apart from the tales of survivors of the Gulag system.
Do Time Get Time was a self-published work written while he was in one of Russia’s most notorious jails, a sudden turn of events for the erstwhile wealthy businessman with a crackerjack lawyer. Eight weeks after it was published, the novel was short-listed for the National Bestseller Prize.
Acclaimed author and former Omon special unit policeman Zakhar Prilepin’s book Limonka in Prison is a collection of essays written by members of the banned National Bolshevik Party (Eduard Limonov’s radical nationalist party) who served their time.
Today’s war prose is greatly influenced by Soviet front literature, except that combat veterans now often write and publish their texts on the internet. They rarely become widely known, but Prilepin, who established a reputation as a literary revolutionary after Pathologies, about the Chechen wars, came out in 2005, is a rare exception.
There are also war writers who have little or no personal experience in conflict zones.
Vladimir Makanin, who wrote about Chechnya in his novel Asan, was accused of mythologising Chechnya by authors and veterans of the conflict alike. Nonetheless, the writer was awarded the prestigious Bolshaya Kniga (Big Book) prize in 2009.
Death of an empire
The collapse of the Soviet Union has become a core subject for writers. Obsession with the end of the empire is not a new phenomenon for Russian writers.
Nostalgia for the past can be found in Alexander Prokhanov’s Mr Hexogen, Prilepin’s amusing collection of short stories Boots Full of Hot Vodka, Mikhail Elizarov’s humorous and thrilling Librarian and Leonid Yusefovich’s Cranes and Dwarfs, (winner of the Bolshaya Kniga award).
The golden age
Sharp political and cultural change is a recurrent national trait in Russia. Often, the time before the change is idealised once it has gone.
Boris Akunin’s popular detective stories have the following dedication: “In the memory of the 19th century, when literature was great, belief in progress was infinite and crimes were committed and detected with grace and style.”
The satirist, poet and novelist Dmitry Bykov considers the Twenties and Thirties, with their strange and hectic intellectual life, to be the golden age, at least until the Terror brought much of that life deeply underground.
More here.

The Ancient Monastery of Armenia

The Ancient Monastery of Armenia: Armenia has a number of monasteies dated the IX-XI centuries. Many of them have been important spiritual centers of the country. In the epoch of feodalism development they even had high schools where students were taught historiography, literature, philosophy, theology, … Read more...

Nathan Altman (1889-1970) - 1911, Lady with a Dog. Portrait of Esther Schwartzmann

Altman, Nathan (1889-1970) - 1911 Lady with a Dog. Portrait of Esther Schwartzmann (Russian Museum) Altman, Nathan (1889-1970) - 1911 Lady with a Dog. Portrait of Esther Schwartzmann (Russian Museum) Altman was born in Vinnytsia, Imperial Russia. From 1902 to 1907 he studied painting and sculpture at the Art College in Odessa. In 1906 he had his first exhibition in Odessa. In 1910 he went to Paris, where he studied at the Free Russian Academy, working in the studio of Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, and had contact with Marc Chagall, Alexander Archipenko, and David Shterenberg. In 1910 he became a member of the group Union of Youth. His famous Portrait of Anna Akhmatova, conceived in Cubist style, was painted in 1914. After 1916 he started to work as a stage designer. In 1918 he was the member of the Board for Artistic Matters within the Department of Fine Arts of the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment together with Malevich, Baranoff-Rossine and Shevchenko. In the same year he had an exhibition with the group Jewish Society for the Furthering of the Arts in Moscow, together with Wladimir Baranoff-Rossine, El Lissitzky and the others. In 1920 he became a member of the Institute for Artistic Culture, together with Kasimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin and others. In the same year, he participated in the exhibition From Impressionism to Cubism in the Museum of Painterly Culture in Petrograd. From 1920 to 1928 he worked on stage designs for the Habimah Theatre and the Jewish State Theatre in Moscow. In 1923 a volume of his Jewish graphic art was published in Berlin. In 1925 he participated in Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Moderns (Art Deco) in Paris. His first solo exhibition in Leningrad was in 1926.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Gala Dali

Gala – real name Elena Dmitrievna Diakonova was a wife of Paul Éluard, lover of Max Ernst, and later a wife, a muse and the only female model of Salvador Dalí.

Elena Diakonova was born in Kazan in 1894. Her father was a modest clerk and died early. Following that Elena’s mother got married again to a lawyer. When Elena turned 17 the family moved to Moscow. Elena Diakonova got her education at the Brukhonenko Female Institute of Moscow. The sisters Anastasia and Marina Tsvetayeva (the famous poetess) studied at the same classical school.

In 1912 Elena was sent to Clavadel Resort, Switzerland to undergo treatment of tuberculosis. This was where she met Paul Éluard. His father, a rich real estate salesman, had sent him there to get cured of…poetry. The ardour, decisiveness, resoluteness, and high culture of Elena Diakonova impressed and inspired the young poet. He nicknamed her Gala from the French word meaning “triumph, festival”. She marked his first outburst of love poetry, which went on in his later works as well. In 1917 they got married and a year later gave birth to daughter Cécile.

In 1921 Éluard and Gala visited artist Max Ernst in Cologne (Germany). She became his model and lover, at the same time remaining the wife of Paul Éluard. Next year the artist moved to Éluard’s house in Val-d'Oise (France). The love triangle was not in the least concealed.


In 1929 Éluard and Gala paid a visit to the young Catalonian artist Salvador Dali at his place in Cadaqués. It was like a stroke of lightning for both of them – Gala and Salvador, who was 10 years younger, fell passionately in love with each other. They officially registered their marriage in 1932 and only 26 years later, in 1958 the church wedding ceremony took place.

She became the only female model and the major plot of inspiration for the artist, who unceasingly praised and glorified her and presented her as a living myth and living legend to the world. On her side, Gala took her husband’s career into her own hands and managed to make it yield. In 1968 Salvador Dali bought her a castle in the small settlement of Púbol (province of Girona), which he could not visit without a preliminary written permit of his glorified wife. There Gala spent the last years of her life.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sergei Prokofiev: War and Peace

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Natasha Rostov: Irina Mataeva
Conductor - Valery Gergiev

Asian City Of The Russian Empire - Tashkent

Asian City Of The Russian Empire: The Russian Empire existed from 22 October 1721 until 1971 when a Soviet Republic was announced. It was the third largest Empire in history after the Britain and Mongol ones with its Emperor having an absolute power. The city of … Read more...

Interview with Arkadii Dragomoschenko

It is with deep regret that we must report the passing of yet another brilliant poet. Arkadii Dragomoshchenko was born on February 3, 1946 in Potsdam, Germany. He moved to St. Petersburg in the late 60s and was one of Russia’s most influential poets. 
Throughout his publishing career he has received many awards including the International Literary Prize in 2009. His poems have been translated into many languages, and as a translator he has translated John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Charles Olson, Michael Palmer and many other poets in Russian.

Shushan Avagyan: Dust is a collection of essays, quite different from your previous works. How would you describe it?

Arkadii Dragomoschenko: To a certain degree, yes, it is kind of different from my former writings, i.e., poetry, and perhaps, prose works, too (I’m referring to PhosphorChinese Sun, and probably forgetting something). As we speak, I’m tempted to put the words “genre” and “type” in quote marks, because genuinely speaking I don’t have the sufficient grounds to articulate their differences—well, with the exception of “poetry,” the definition of which is so grossly oversimplified. I think that the categorization of the latter has acquired such a habitual factor that it’s too late to change anything.

So then, what is Dust? Perhaps, for a start, I will say that it represents “structure.” It consists of a certain conditional unity of fractions, which are dispersed and networked through either magnetic fields, movements in the air, or the voracity of our eyes. Interestingly, before even starting “Indifference” (the last essay in Dust), I had no intention of having cut-out fragments juxtaposed to finished pieces, which then would determine their relationship to the last part. Looking back, now I have all the grounds to claim that their . . . let’s say their architecture (associations, relativity, construction of intonations) began to shape only in the process of writing “Indifference.”

SA: As I understand, some of the pieces were written in train stations, hotels, during writer’s symposiums in Berlin, New York, Helsinki and other cities. How much did these transitional circumstances in which you wrote influence the plot of the book?

AD: Before the conception of “Indifference” each essay represented a sort of self-contained fragment, written in connection to various singular circumstances (I didn’t bother in structuring any of the writings or confining them to a certain finished plot). At different occasions I wrote some of the essays for literary journals, or they appeared in other publications, like the essay “Sand to Sand” was originally written as a preface to a book. At other occasions I would start writing a letter to someone and then I would quickly lose interest in finishing it—instead I’d send a short note to the person I was writing the letter . . . as an excuse. Sometimes I wrote out of sheer pleasure—I’m talking about the simple physical pleasure I get out of typing or feeling my fingertips on the keyboard. At those instances I imagine seeing the body of a concrete reader, hovering in a slant of the obfuscated horizon; by which I mean the anticipation of his reaction to what he’d just read and tried to change the expanse and proportions with my “forthcoming sentence.” Well, and at other times all of these would happen simultaneously. Then I would put everything aside for the big thick vision of a book, which would encompass all.
SA: Cultural differences often pose as a difficulty in perceiving a certain author or literature in general. How do American readers react to your work?

AD: The question is rather complicated. I guess it makes sense to talk a little bit about certain sources of writing—sort of supplemental writing. Universal mores have lost their excitement. Perpetuality and everlasting values have unfortunately become the subjects of academic analysis. To a certain extent, I suppose human experience replicates fundamental narratives typical of this or that era. And sometimes, only the extent and vastness of such an experience vouch for the fact that comprehension, in general, is possible. But speaking of dialoguing, it’s important to remember that a dialogue is not a system of “exchange,” but rather a discontinuous liaison based on anticipation in the form of questions/answers.

It sounds ridiculous, but really, will any reader understand anything about the present-day, or even the old Petersburg, or about Russia in general, by reading my book? Of course the reader has various motivations for reading, and that’s what keeps me writing.

SA: In one of your essays from Amerika: Russian Writers View the United States you write about New York: “As soon as you get used to hearing several languages spoken at once, the surroundings suddenly lose their fifth dimension and the world returns to the realm of normal things, such as the heel of my shoe, ground down from too much walking, the reflection of the setting sun cast with seeming indifference by a passing subway train on the Manhattan Bridge, the ring of a telephone, a receipt from a liquor store, or a tearful meeting with Avital Ronell in a labyrinth of offices at NYU.” At first estranged, America becomes very familiar . . . Could you talk a little bit about your visit?

AD: I have a very complex, subtle and rather amenable relationship with this country. In a few words—I love America, because in my sub-consciousness, memory and even imagination it’s never self-contained or concluded. “America, to me” is an ever-pulsating, multi-faceted construction of high dynamic voltage—in cultural, ethnographical, geographical, anthropological, political and finally personal aspects.

I wrote the first part of my book Chinese Sun in Encinitas, where I lived and taught at the University of California, San Diego, as a visiting professor. My seminar was called “Different Logics for Writing,” which I was planning to use as the title for my book, but then something else occurred to me one evening, when I was standing at the shore, completely entránced by the sunset—I realized that China had dislocated itself to the West . . . But then, of course, I forgot all about it until months later, in Petersburg, I came across one of Konstantin Vaginov’s lines: “Look how shimmers the dead Chinese sun . . .”

Of course, you’ll point out my use of “foreign” (to the Russian reader) names of local streets, downtown areas, cities—all that is a simple device for estranging one from the textual material. This is an old device, by the way, something that has been around long before Shklovsky and the Russian Formalists pointed it out. Remember the riddles from your childhood. Instead of saying “scissors,” for example, we ask what is it that has “two ends, two rings, and a screw in the middle.” When taken out from its “normal” (habitual) context, and inserted into a complex rhetorical structure or syntactic construction, the expression gains a different semantic horizon as a phenomenon free from its experiment (or experience), meaning, it’s not so much a “rewriting” but a shifting of one’s optic angle. It’s not an investment with an additive significance, but a radical shift of the actual conscience. These were some of the ingredients that we experimented with at the seminar in La-Jola.

SA: Can you talk a little bit about your correspondence with Lyn Hejinian. How did it end up in Jacki Ochs’s Letters Not About Love?

AD: My collaboration with Lyn and Jacki began long time ago—I think it was at the end of the 1980s. Jacki has one remarkable quality; she always finds an intellectual intrigue in all her projects (perhaps I’m wrong and it’s the other way around—an actual “intrigue” becomes material for her films). In any case, the plot of the documentary that was based on my correspondence with Lyn didn’t sound very convincing. But then Jacki, rather unexpectedly, turned our attention to the Bakhtinian notion that one can “understand” his own culture only through “another” culture. Of course, this idea wasn’t anything new or exceptional, but the time and place when it was brought to our attention, from the point of social, let’s say, “meditation” or inquiry, it seemed quite reasonable. And then, this was adequately touching upon the problems of the Other and intersubjectivity. Jacki sent me and Lyn a list of ordinary words (like “home,” “poverty,” violence,” etc) that were supposed to drive the dialog of that particular letter. As far as I can remember, the correspondence lasted over a year (have in mind that we didn’t have e-mail back then, and the strategy of a paper letter in an envelope is drastically different from the instantaneous gratification that we get today with electronic mail. And since each letter traveled for 17-20 days, with approximately the same duration of time for a reply, the paper as if contained in itself a sense of preserved time).

More here.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Boris Kustodiev - Short Biography

Boris Kustodiev. Maslenitsa. 1919

Boris Mikhailovich Kustodiev was born in Astrakhan on March 7, 1878 into the family of a professor of philosophy, history of literature, and logic at the local theological seminary.

Between 1893 and 1896, Boris took private art lessons in Astrakhan from Pavel Vlasov, a pupil of Vasily Perov. Subsequently, from 1896 to 1903, he attended Ilya Repin’s studio at the Academy of Arts in St. Peterburg. Concurrently he took classes in sculpture under Dmitry Stelletsky and in etching under Vasily Mathé. He first exhibited in 1896.

In 1904, he attended the private studio of René Ménard in Paris. In 1904, he traveled to Spain, in 1907 to Italy, and in 1909 visited Austria, France, and Germany, and again Italy. During these years he painted many portraits and genre pieces. In 1905-06, he contributed to the satirical journals Zhupel (Bugbear) and Adskaya Pochta (Hell’s Mail). At that time, he first met the World of Art (Russian: Mir Iskusstva) artists, a group of innovative Russian artists. He joined their association in 1910 and subsequently took part in all their exhibitions. Earlier, in 1909, he was made an Academician of Painting.

In 1909, Kustodiev developed the initial symptoms of the grave illness that in 1916 paralyzed the lower part of his body, thus confining him to his studio where he continued to paint, relying on memories from his boyhood and youth and on his imagination. His ability to remain joyful and lively despite his paralysis is amazing. His colorful paintings and joyful genre pieces do not reveal his physical suffering, and on the contrary give the impression of a carefree and cheerful life. His Pancake Tuesday/Maslenitsa. (1916), Fontanka. (1916) are all painted from his memories. He meticulously restores his own childhood in the busy city on the Volga banks.

File:Kustodiev Zamyatin.jpg
Portrait of the author Yevgeny Zamyatin. 1923. Drawing. 

In 1923, Kustodiev joined the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia. He continued to paint, make engravings, illustrate books and design for the theater up until his death on May 28, 1927, in Leningrad.

Serge de Diaghilev - A Portrait [1]

This is a documentary divided into seven parts on the life of Serge de Diaghilev, founder and guiding creative force of the famed Ballets Russes company.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Nikolay Gumilev - Biography

Nikolay Gumilev was a poet of the Russian “Silver Age” (a period in Russian poetry in the beginning of the 20th century), the founder of the acmeist movement, a critic and a traveler.

He was born in Kronstadt near St. Petersburg, to a family of a naval medic. Soon after his birth, his father moved the family to Tsarskoye Selo (now Pushkin Town, located south of St. Petersburg). For two years, starting from 1900, their family lived in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia). When Gumilev was six years old, the “Tiflis Leaflet” (“Tiflisskiy listok”) published his first poem, named “I Fled from Cities to the Forest” (“Ya v les sbezhal iz gorodov”).

The following year, his family returned to Tsarskoye Selo, where the young poet started studying in the Nikolayevskaya male gymnasium. The gymnasium’s headmaster was Innokenty Annensky, a famous poet of the time, who had a great influence on the students. Gumilev was not particularly studious, and only received his school certificate when he was 20.

A year before graduating from the gymnasium, he published his first poetry collection “The Conquistadors’ Way” (“Put’ konkvistadorov”), which he later called an “immature experience”. The characters of the collection’s poems seemed to have come straight from the pages of adventure novels about the pioneers of America, of which Gumilev was an avid reader. The collection attracted the attention of Valery Bryusov, one of the founders of the Russian symbolism poetry movement. A year later, Gumilev started work on his drama “King Batinyol’s Jester” (“Shut korolya Batinyola”), which he never finished.

After graduating Gumilev moved to Paris to continue his education in Sorbonne, where he listened to lectures on French literature. He followed the life of French artists, while maintaining correspondence with Valery Bryusov. There he also became the publisher of the magazine “Sirius”. In 1908 in Paris his second collection was published, named “Romantic Flowers” (“Romanticheskie tsvety”), which again was full of literary and historical exotic material, while some poems were touched with slight irony, moving romanticism’s figures to a playful angle and thus outlining the author’s unique stance. Gumilev worked hard on every poem, striving to make them both “flexible” and “steadily restrained”. The collection was published with his own money and was dedicated to his fiancée Anna Akhmatova (who would later become a world-famous Russian poet herself).

The same year he returned to Russia and entered the University of St. Petersburg. He first studied at the law faculty, then moving to the faculty of history and philology, but he never finished the entire course. He traveled a lot during that period of his life, feeling especially attracted to Africa (where he went thrice during his life, each time bringing back lots of exotic items to the Ethnography Museum of the Academy of Sciences).

In 1910, Gumilev’s collection “Pearls” (“Zhemchuga”) was published. It was dedicated to his “teacher” Valery Bryusov. The famous poet answered with a review that said that Gumilev “lived in an imaginary, almost ghostly world… creating his own countries and populating them with his own creations: people, animals and demons”. In the collection, Gumilev didn’t abandon the characters of his earlier works. However, they had changed significantly. His poetry started showing psychologism, with characters displaying their unique principles and passions, instead of “masks”. “Pearls” helped Gumilev become famous.

In April 1910, Gumilev married Anna Akhmatova. They spent their honeymoon in Paris. He then left for Africa. In autumn 1912 their son Lev was born. After Gumilev returned to Russia in 1918, they divorced.

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Thursday, 13 September 2012

Dmitri Plavinsky, 76, leading artist of Nonconformist Soviet and Contemporary Russian art, dies


It is with great sadness SDZY Contemporary announces the passing of Dmitri Plavinsky, a critically important figure during the Nonconformist Art movements in the Soviet Union and, overthrowing the State-enforced mandates of Socialist Realism, was a pivotal force in the developing of Contemporary Russian Art. 

Like many of his peers, due to restrictions enforced by the governing political regime, Plavinsky was virtually unknown in the art industry outside of Nonconformist circles during much of his career; still, his works were one of a very select few Nonconformist works to be shown overseas, beginning at the The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in the 1974 exhibition "Contemporary Soviet Art" and in The Metropolitan Museum's 1977 exhibition "Russian and Soviet Art". 

"He was a pioneer, an artist who remained true to his own principles and refused to be deflected by political and commercial pressures," said Dr. John E. Bowlt, Director of the Institute for Modern Russian Culture and the leading author and expert on 20th Century Russian Art. Dr. Bowlt's forthcoming volume "A Century of Russian Art: 1900-2000" is being released next year. 

Another expert on Plavinsky and his work, Dr. Michael Mezzatesta, the Mary D.B.T. Semans and James H. Semans Director of the Duke University Nasher Museum of Art, described the late artist "as one of the greats." "Dmitri Plavinsky's art was as broad as the Steppes and as deep as the Russian soul. Through the dark times of the 'Great Experiment' and beyond, he probed the roots of the Russian spirit. He never lost faith in its strength or historical richness. Plavinsky's art remains a lasting legacy to one of the Motherland's greatest artists of his generation." 

Today, Plavinsky is considered one of the most recognized Contemporary Russian Artists of his time, with significant works now permanently housed in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Museum Ludwig in Koln, and on permanent display in every major museum in Russia; in the commercial arena, his works continued in recent years to bring record prices for the artist at such venerable auction houses such as Sotheby's and Christies. 

Born April 28, 1937 in Moscow, Russia, Dmitri Petrovich Plavinsky graduated from the Theater Department of the State Academic School in Memorium of 1905, in 1956. An active member of the Nonconformist art community, he mastered various mediums including painting, etchings, and mixed media. Because of his controversial and revolutionary creative output, he was not permitted to join the Moscow Union of Artists - a necessity in order to "officially" work as an artist, sell art, and have a studio under Soviet mandate - until many years later in 1978. Avoiding the difficult post-Perestroika years, the artist moved to New York City in 1992. In 2004, he returned to reside and work in Moscow. 

In 2001, Rizzoli Publishers published an extensive English-language monograph on the artist. 

Plavinsky, at the age of 76, died September 1, 2012, of a heart attack in Moscow, Russia. He is survived by his wife, Masha, in Moscow, and daughter, Lisa, in Moscow.