The life and art of Alexander Tikhomirov explored in exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art

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The life and art of Alexander Tikhomirov explored in exhibition at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art
Theatre Scene, 1970. Oil on canvas. 115 × 162. Oryol Museum of Fine Art.

LONDON.- Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Heritage foundation of artist A.D. Tikhomirov present an exhibition by Alexander Tikhomirov (1916–1995), one of the brightest representatives of Russian art school of the 20th century. The exhibition comprises more than 100 paintings and prints, documents and photos from the artist’s archives, as well as two biographical films.

The life and art of Alexander Tikhomirov completely belongs to the Soviet epoch. In the 1970s, Alexander Tikhomirov became one of the leading Soviet artists, who created and later replicated standard samples of mass agitation, commissioned by the state. Like many other artists of that period, he led a double life, devoted himself to artistic experiments in the privacy of his studio, far from the ideological dictate and commission.

The historical context of the epoch influenced not only upon the life of Alexander Tikhomirov, but also upon the fate of his artworks. For several decades, the artist was engaged in the Combine of Decorative and Applied Arts of the Moscow Department of the RSFSR Art Foundation. Tikhomirov spent the rest of the time working in his studio, falling into the world of pure painting, full of incredible phantasmagoria and symbols. The duality was characteristic of many artists of the Soviet era. But the difference was that, on the one part, he was outside of art groups of the unofficial Soviet art (though he was very close to them in different periods of his career), and, on the other part, his artworks consistently absorbed the taste for patterns of European modernism of the most radical wing. He was inspired by works of Matisse and Picasso, as well as by the art of the late Renaissance.

The exhibition is based on the dialogue between two sides of the artist’s creative life. The first side presents sketches of the celebrated series, devoted to Vladimir Lenin, archival documents and photos. The second side contains large-format paintings “from the studio” of Tikhomirov. The audience can observe the artist of the totalitarian regime in the context of the forced and painful searches for a compromise between the official language of the state propaganda and intense creative search of a true artistexperimenter.

Alexander Tikhomirov was born on January 1, 1916, in Baku. In 1931, he entered a Rabfak school and simultaneously worked in the Baku painting studio of advertising. In 1934, he entered the 2nd year of the Faculty of Painting, Baku Art School.

In 1938, Tikhomirov became a member of the Union of Artists of Azerbaijan. In 1944, he entered the Moscow State Art Institute (since 1948 the Moscow State Art Institute after V.I. Surikov), the studio of Alexander Osmerkin. In 1948, he was expelled on charges of “formalist tendencies”. In the same year, he went to work in the set workshops of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre.

In 1951, he started working in the Combine of Decorative and Applied Arts of the Moscow Department of the RSFSR Art Foundation. The work lasted 27 years.

In 1975, Alexander Tikhomirov was awarded Gold Medal of the Exhibition of visual agitation, held in VDNKh. In the same year, he got his own studio and retired, focusing on free work.

On March 30, 1995, Alexander Tikhomirov died in Moscow.

The artworks of the artist are in collections of the Russian Museum, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Oryol Museum of Fine Arts and other museums of Russia, Azerbaijan, Italy, as well as in Russian and international private collections.

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