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Anatoly Zverev


Soviet Nonconformist Art from A to Z


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My Teacher Leonardo

February 8 — October 22, 2023
0 — 400 ₽

AZ Museum, Moscow


On February 8, AZ Museum is opening its 11th project “My Teacher Leonardo” dedicated to the legendary Moscow artist Anatoly Zverev. One of the major events of the upcoming exhibition is displaying the Zverev’s treatise from archives, digitalized and openly presented for the first time.

Having read treatises of the Renaissance “Universal Man”, Zverev wrote in his autobiography: “I chose my teacher Leonardo da Vinci”. This metaphoric phrase became the conceptual center of the exhibition. In dozens of his own treatises Anatoly Zverev repeatedly entered the dialogue with the Italian master. Sure, our hero greatly admired Rembrandt, Goya, Malevich, Matisse, Rafael and Velázquez, though Zverev’s relationship with da Vinci was truly special. Those dialogues included no debates or direct imitation, but depicted affinity of both artists and special consonance in thoughts on art and a role of an artist in it.

Exhibition “My Teacher Leonardo” will feature more than 170 paintings and graphic works by Anatoly Zverev — masterpieces in various genres, such as portraits and self-portraits, landscapes and animal paintings. A very special place will be given to the Zverev’s writings, treatises and poetry, none of which has been published before. The AZ Museum publishing project issued the facsimile edition of the “Treatise on Painting” of 1959 and timed it to the exhibition opening. Dedicated to the great collector George Costakis, the treatise is published with the commentaries of the well-known philologist and textual critic, translator and art historian Nikolay Kotrelev.

Natalia Opaleva, the CEO of the AZ Museum:
“Zverev and Leonardo may seem incompatible at first, drawn toward opposite poles not only due to dissimilar epochs they lived in, but also to character traits, lifestyle and so many other things… Yet anyway we highlight in Zverev’s writings: “When I was reading treatises by someone I now consider my friend, I was amazed by how similar we express our thoughts”. Was Zverev just ironic about it, or he actually did chose Leonardo da Vinci to be his teacher? The one who revealed to Zverev a certain view of life and art in their general sense, without academic or any other norms or rules, relying exclusively on own experience and intuition?”

Natalia Volkova, archives keeper of the AZ Museum:
“To view Zverev as a significant writer and poet would be incorrect. His poetry and prose are indissociable from his spontaneous and instant art. It’s a visual poetry, visual literature. Today Zverev’s writings resemble Sumerian cuneiform or Novgorod birchbark manuscripts. The AZ Museum publishes the facsimile of the treatise that will disclose to a viewer yet unknown facets of Zverev’s talent”.

Anatoly Zverev’s oeuvre is vast and diverse. Not only well-known portraits and self-portraits, series of graphic works and picturesque landscapes will be displayed, but also recently acquired artworks that have never been depicted before in the Museum: “Pine in Schukino” (1973) and “Courtyard in Sokolniki” (1957), also portraits of the poet Arseny Sedugin (1983).

At the exhibition “My Teacher Leonardo” Anatoly Zverev appears as “The Universal Man”, which the Renaissance master wrote about, but of another epoch. Artist and poet who embodied the dream of the 20th century about the freedom of art.

Various events will be held within the exhibition project: lectures, film screenings and education programs for kids.

About the artist
Anatoly Zverev (1931 – 1986) is a Russian artist, one of the key figures of the Moscow art life of the 2nd half of the 20th century. The renowned collector George Costakis called Zverev “the Russian Van Gogh”. In the 1960-s, the Life Magazine published its monthly edition with reproductions of works by Anatoly Zverev and a note by Alexander Marshak “The Russian art never seen before”. That was a vivid evidence of the upsurge of the artist, while he remained an underground figure in Russia. During his lifetime the exhibitions in Paris took place, and the largest museums in the world, such as MoMA in New York, acquired Zverev’s art. But the artist himself never left Russia, nor visited vernissages of his exhibitions. In Moscow he displayed artworks at apartment exhibitions (kvartirniki) or group projects of the nonconformist artists. The first and the only solo exhibition of Zverev took place in 1984 on Malaya Gruzinskaya st. at the City Committee for Graphic Artists (Gorcom), not so long before the artist’s death. Vladimir Nemukhin became one of the organizers of the exhibit. There are about 30 thousand artworks by Anatoly Zverev, stored in the AZ Musuem, the Tretyakov gallery, the State Historical Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in Moscow, the MoMA in New York, in private collections in Russia and abroad.

Authors of the project:
CEO of the AZ Museum – Natalia Opaleva
Art Director — Anatoly Golyshev
Project coordinator, archives keeper — Natalia Volkova
Literary Editor — Olga Bogomolova

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