Four Perspectives Through the Lens: Soviet Art Photography in the 1970s-80s

Vladimir Kupriyanov: Make a Noise, Make a Noise Obedient, Sail, 1979
Oct 03, 2009 - Mar 28, 2010
Dodge Wing Lower Level


This exhibition presents a selection of more than sixty photographs from the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Soviet Nonconformist Art by Francisco Infante, Vladimir Kupriyanov, Boris Mikhailov, and Aleksandr Slyusarev, four major Soviet artists working with photography in the 1970s and 1980s. Photography was not officially considered an art in the Soviet Union at that time, and it was not taught in art schools. On the other hand, the amateur status of artistic photography, unrestricted by professional conventions or censorship, allowed great creative freedom and presented wide opportunities for experimentation. Soviet photographers made exceedingly canny, inventive, and highly individual use of the medium, expressing ideas that were both specific and universal in character.

These four artists demonstrate four different approaches to the photograph, and testify to the range and variety of fine art photography’s development in Soviet unofficial art. Two – Slyusarev and Mikhailov – are straightforward art photographers. Two others – Infante and Kupriyanov – are visual artists, who use photography as a medium to transcribe their creative ideas. Two of the four – Kupriyanov and Mikhailov – are concerned with social issues; the other two – Infante and Slyusarev – explore abstract categories, such as the geometry of light and reflections, often with reference to Russian avant-garde and/or western modernist practice.

The exhibition presents an opportunity for multiple comparisons and cross-references in areas such as the approaches to social themes, cultural and art historical associations, and various photographic techniques and artistic effects.

Organized by Julia Tulovsky, Assistant Curator of Russian and Soviet Nonconformist Art

Vladimir Kupriyanov

Make a Noise, Make a Noise Obedient, Sail, 1979

Gelatin silver print

Collection Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers

Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union

Photo Jack Abraham