Vladimir Yankilevsky 1938–2018

1938    Born in Moscow on February 15th (Bolshoi Spasoglinishchevsky Pereulok 10).

My father Boris Isaakovich Yankilevsky was an artist and designer who studied under Vladimir Favorsky in the early 1930s.

1941    My father is on the frontline from the first days of the war onward. My sister, my mother and I are evacuated to the village of Kozlovka on the Volga, where my mother works at an airplane factory.

1944    The family returns to Moscow to the same apartment where it lived before the war (Bolshoi Spasoglinishchevsky Pereulok 10, apartment 3).

1945-46           Stay in Germany (Eisenach, Erfurt, Halle), where my father, a first lieutenant of the artillery, continues military service as part of the Soviet occupying forces.

1950-1956       Attendance of Moscow Middle School for Art. My graduation piece consists of illustrations for Mikhail Sholokhov’s novel “Virgin Soil Upturned.”

1956    I fail the entrance exam for the Moscow Institute of Printed Arts on my first try, and look for work in publishing houses as an illustrator.

My first job is to illustrate an edition of “A Story of Seven Hanged Men” by Leonid Andreev, published by the Goslitizdat Publishing House.

My first live encounter with modern art comes with the exhibition of Pablo Picasso in Moscow.

1957    Admitted to the Faculty of Graphic Arts Design of the Moscow Institute of Printed Arts. Study with Eli Beliutin, who teaches modern art there.

I meet my future wife Rimma Solod.

1958    The faculty’s professors obstruct Eli Beliutin, brand him “incompetent,” and force him out of his teaching post.

I make friends with Nikolai Popov and Viktor Pivovarov.

First steps as an independent artist in paintings like “Two on the Beach,” “Lovers,” and “Portrait of R.S.”

1959    Marriage to Rimma Solod. We rent one room after another in communal apartments, where we live and I work.

1960-1961       Still lives with white bottles lead to a search for abstract forms to visualize the interplay of forces.

Fascination with the music of the baroque. I make the cycle “Landscapes of Forces” under the influence of J.S. Bach’s cello suites.

Male and female principles first appear in the structure of the painting as the basis of figural conflict.

Exposure to the music of Dmitry Shostakovich leaves a deep impression.

The first appearance of the triptych as a conceptual framework for the idea of the place of the human being (man and woman) in the universe.

First important pieces: “Dialogue” (now in the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery) and Triptych No. 1: “Classical” (now in the collection of the Museum Ludwig in Budapest).

I become friendly with other independent artists such as Eduard Steinberg, Yuri Sobolev, Yulo Sooster, and Ilya Kabakov.

1962    Triptych No. 1 is shown at an exhibition organized by the Club of Creative Institutions of Higher Education at the Hotel Yunost’.

“Theme and Improvisation,” a cycle of pastels and canvases.

The conception of the triptych undergoes further development, resulting in Triptych No. 2: “Two Principles,” and the Pentaptych “Atomic Station” (now in the collection of the Museum Ludwig in Cologne).

“The Structure of Aphrodite,” a cycle of drawings (now also in the collection of the Museum Ludwig).

To earn a living, I illustrate for the popular-scientific publishing house “Znanie” and the journal “Znanie – Sila.”

Acquaintance with Ernst Neizvestny. We exhibit together at Moscow State University.

Exhibition on Bolshaya Kommunisticheskaya Street, organized by Eli Beliutin, who personally invites E. Neizvestny, Yu. Sobolev, Yu. Sooster, and myself to participate.

Staging a provocation, the Soviet academy invites the artists from the exhibition on Bolshaya Kommunisticheskaya to show their work at the 30th Anniversary Exhibition of the Moscow Artist’s Union in the Manege Exhibition Hall. Triptych No. 2: “Two Principles,” the Pentaptych “Atomic Station,” and several smaller pieces from the series “Theme and Improvisation” are shown among those works derided by Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to the exhibition.

A campaign against “bourgeois manifestations” in culture unfolds. I receive my first “critical” mentions in the Soviet press, and anxiously wait for official sanctions. For jobs, I use a pseudonym.

I become fond of jazz (Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane), and become friendly with the Moscow jazz musicians German Lukianov, Nikolai Gromin, and others.

The future director of the Museum of Modern Art at the Centre Georges Pompidou (MNAM), Dominique Bozo first visits my studio.

1963    The birth of my daughter Ellen.

Exploration of ways to combine figuration and abstraction. “Torsos,” an extended cycle of drawings. The idea of “actual painting.” Search for a visual language to express the spatial and temporal conflict between “now” and “then,” “here” and “somewhere.” Relief structures begin to appear in paintings: “Portrait of R.S.,” “Midnight. A Nature Vive,” “Portrait of a Man” and “Portrait of a Woman.” I also complete Triptych No. 3: “Exodus (Dedicated to R.S.).” (First shown in 1978, and now part of the collection of the “Ekaterina” Cultural Foundation).

Acquaintance with the Czech art critic and collector Dushan Konechny, an active proponent of unofficial Soviet art in Czechoslovakia, Italy, and Germany, and a prolific author of criticism.

1964    Triptych No. 4: “Being in the Universe (Dedicated to Dmitri Shostakovich)”, which is only shown to the public 14 years later.

The famous collector of Russian avant-garde art George Costakis first visits my studio.

My work participates in a large number of exhibitions in Czechoslovakia and Poland, and the first professional critical articles begin to appear.

1965    I take part in my first big international exhibition when my work participates in “Alternativa Attuale II” in Italy.

“Adam and Eve,” a cycle of works on paper, as well as Triptych No. 5: “Adam and Eve” (first shown 22 years later), and “Torso” (now in the collection of the “Ekaterina” Cultural Foundation).

A solo exhibition of my work in the Institute of Biophysics of the Academy of the Sciences of the USSR is closed down on the evening of its opening.

1966    My first solo exhibition abroad takes place in the Capek Brothers Gallery in Prague (with works from the collection of Dushan Konechny).

I move into my first studio in Moscow (Ulansky Pereulok 5), and make Triptych No. 6: “We in the World” (first shown to the public in 1987 in Moscow, and now part of the collection of the Centre Georges Pompidou).

My work is shown at exhibitions in Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Italy.

The British author John Berger and the Swiss photographer Jean Mohr visit my studio. An article on my work appears in Sunday Times Magazine.

Publications and exhibitions abroad provoke the wrath of the Ministry of Culture of the USSR, and unofficial artists are invited for “friendly talks.”

Participation in the Venice Biennale.

1967    The Prague National Gallery acquires my male and female portraits from Dushan Konechny.

“Prophets,” a series of relief-paintings. George Costakis acquires several pieces, including one of the “Prophets.”

Triptych No. 7 (first shown to the public in 1975, and currently in the Norton and Nancy Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union in the Zimmerli Museum, New Jersey, USA.)

I meet the composer Alfred Schnittke.

“Woman by the Sea,” a series of drawings and pastels.

1968-1969       The idea of the simultaneity of different states begins to interest me more and more. Breakthroughs and “holes” begin to appear in paintings as irony regarding illusion.

“Kafkaesque Atmosphere,” an extended cycle of works on paper (1968-70).

An acquaintance with the composer and pianist Alexandre Rabinovich marks the beginning of a lasting friendship.

1970    In Triptych No. 9: “Anatomy of the Soul,” the conflict between the “interior” and the “exterior” becomes more and more apparent (first shown to a broader public in 1975).

“Women’s Faces” and “Strolling Women,” two cycles of pastels. Work begins on the extended “City” cycle.

Exhibition of unofficial Soviet artists in the Gmurzinska Gallery in Cologne.

I meet the famous French art dealer Dina Vierny and show her my work.

1971    An acquaintance with the philosopher Evgeny Shiffers marks the beginning of an intensive creative dialogue.

My membership application to the Artist’s Union of the USSR is rejected with no explanation.

Works on paper including “Anatomy of Feeling,” “City – Masks,” and “Functions and Graphs,” analyzing the adequacy of experience and its deformation in social space.

1972    Developing the idea of a paradoxical combination of “real” objects with “painted” space in one artwork, I make my first object-installation “Door (Dedicated to the parents of my parents).”

“Anatomy of Feelings,” and “City – Masks,” two albums of etchings, (app. 70 plates in total).

1973    I take part in the exhibition “Avant-garde russe – Moscou 73” at the Dina Vierny Gallery in Paris, where the Centre Georges Pompidou acquires one of my drawings.

I meet Marc Chagall through Georges Costakis.

Alexandre Rabinovich and I travel to the Zelenchuk Laboratory for Astrophysics in the Northern Caucasus to show and discuss our work in a series of “creative evenings.”

I work as chief animator (with Nikolai Popov) on the film “The World of Tales,” directed by Andrei Khrzhanovsky, with music by Alfred Schnittke.

1974    Triptych No. 11 “A Moment of Eternity” (Dedicated to Alexandre Rabinovich). “Mutants (Sodom and Gomorrah)”, a series of drawings, gouaches, and etchings (1974-1978).

Acquaintance with Norton Dodge, the future founder of the Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union at the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

Werner Schmidt, the head of the graphical department of the Dresden National Gallery, buys 15 drawings and etchings for the museum’s collection.

Dina Vierny acquires “Door” and takes it away to Paris. (It is only shown to the public with the opening of the Maillol Museum – Foundation Dina Vierny in 1995.)

1975-1977       The first exhibition of unofficial artists with official “permission” takes place at the “Beekeeping Pavilion” of the All Union Exhibition of Economic Achievements (VDNKh). Triptychs Nos. 7 and 9 are included.

Evgeny Shiffers writes “The Door of the Artist Vladimir Yankilevsky” and publishes it in the samizdat journal “37.”

“Woman by the Sea,” a series of gouaches (1977–1979).

1978   “Dark and Light,” “Moment of Eternity” and Triptych No. 12: “Requiem.”

First retrospective exhibition in Moscow (with Eduard Steinberg), including Triptychs Nos. 1, 3, 4, 7, 12, the Pentaptych “Atomic Station,” “Dark and Light,” “Moment of Eternity,” and “Torso” (1965), as well as numerous pastels and drawings.

Trip to Prague on an invitation by the Czech critic Jindrich Chalupecky, author of a monograph on Marcel Duchamp. Visits to artist’s studios.

Chalupecky visits Moscow and meets with artists, whom he summarily calls the “Sretensky Boulevard Group” in a later article.

1979-1980       E. Shiffers writes his text “In Search of Lost Memory (On an Exhibition by V.Yankilevsky and E.Steinberg)”.

The idea of finding a figural expression for the ephemeral and the eternal at once. Completion of Pentaptych No. 2: “Adam and Eve,” which is shown at an exhibition of nineteen artists in Moscow.

E. Shiffers writes “Russia’s Countenances and Masks,” in which he analyzes Pentaptych No. 2.

Admission into the Artist’s Union of the USSR after ten years of refusal.

1981-1986       Invitation to participate in the cultural program for a Summer School on Bioenergetics (Kara-Dag, Crimea) under the direction of Professor V. Skulachev. Exhibition of albums of etchings and discussion. Acquaintance with Vyacheslav Vsevolodovich Ivanov.

“Portraits of a Man” (oil on fiberboard), “The Space of Experience,” a cycle of pastels and oils. Continuation of the cycle “Women by the Sea” (pastel, gouache, oil).

The idea of the conflict between the harmonic principle and destructive mutations of consciousness in society.

Pentaptych No. 3: “Sodom and Gomorrah” (1985).

Peter Spielmann, the director of the Museum Bochum in Germany, first visits my studio.

Triptych No. 13 (Dedicated to Vladimir Tarasov.)

Evening event at the House of Composers in Moscow in the frameworks of “Evenings” organized by G.S. Frid. Vladimir Tarasov improvises on percussion instruments on the theme of Triptych No. 13.

1987    Triptych No. 14: “Self-Portrait (In Memory of a Father”.)

Journey to Budapest on invitation of the art critic Edit Adras. The Budapest Museum of Fine Art acquires several works on paper.

Second retrospective exhibition in Moscow. Works shown include Pentaptych No. 3: “Sodom and Gomorrah,” Triptych No. 5: “Adam and Eve,” Triptych No. 6: “We in the World” and others.

Exhibition of unofficial Soviet art in Bern.

Peter Ludwig acquires Triptych No. 14: “Self-Portrait” and Pentaptych No. 1: “Atomic Station” for his museum in Cologne.

The State Tretyakov Gallery acquires “Light and Darkness.” The Centre Georges Pompidou acquires four works on paper.

1988    First journey to the West (to New York) for the openings of retrospective exhibitions at the E. Nakhamkin Galleries in New York on Greene Street and in San Francisco.

The first Sotheby’s auction dedicated to unofficial Soviet art is held in Moscow, where Triptych No. 13 is sold.

Retrospective at Museum Bochum in Germany. Martha Argerich and Alexandre Rabinovich give a concert at the opening. Travel in Germany (Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Heidelberg, Bremen, Frankfurt).

1989    Collaboration with the Bar-Gera Gallery in Cologne.

Developing the idea of the “existential box” and its formation, I begin to work on the object-installations “Suicide in Landscape” and “People in Boxes.” These pieces are shown at the Koppelmann Gallery in Cologne.

1990    Relocation to New York and continuation of work on the object-installation “People in Boxes.”

“People in Boxes” is shown at the Berman Gallery in SoHo, along with a number of collages from the “City” series.

Dina Vierny hosts a solo exhibition of pastels from the “Space of Experience” series on FIAC-90 in Paris.

1991    Retrospective at the Paris Art Center (curated by Ante Glibota).

Studio in New York on 137 Greene Street in SoHo. Work on the collage series “Self-Portraits” and “City,” and on the larger multi-panel pieces from the cycle “Take a Train…”

Acquaintance with Alexander Borovsky, head of the Department for Newest Tendencies at the State Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.

The Russian Museum acquires Triptych No. 11: “Moments of Eternity,” 1974.

1992-1994       Contract with the “Galerie Le Monde de l’Art” in Paris, and relocation to Paris. Solo exhibition at the gallery, showing eight pieces from the “Take a Train…” cycle, 5 × 8 meters large, as well as the installation “People in Boxes” and collages from the “City” series.

Exhibition of “Self-Portraits” in the Galerie Dina Vierny.

“The Artist and his Model,” a series of collages, explores the problem of empathy and identification with the model.

Solo exhibitions in Brussels and Dusseldorf.

The object “Monument heroїque” and numerous works on paper are shown in a solo exhibition at the “La Base” Center for Contemporary Art in Paris, curated by Olga Sviblova).

1995-1996       Dina Vierny opens the Maillol Museum – Foundation Dina Vierny in Paris, where “Door” (1972) is part of the permanent exhibit, along with several “Self-Portrait.”

Peter Ludwig presents the Russian Museum with thirty-three works of world art from his collection including my Triptych No. 14: “Self-Portrait.”

Opening of the permanent exhibit of the Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection of Nonconformist Art from the Soviet Union in the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Pentaptych No. 2: “Adam and Eve” (1980) is part of the display.

Exhibition in the Jewish Museum in New York City, where Triptych No. 4 “Being in the Universe” is shown.

Retrospective in the State Tretyakov Gallery. Works shown include Triptychs Nos. 3, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 14, Pentaptych No. 1: “Atomic Station,” “People in Boxes,” “Take a Train… VI” and others.

Retrospective in the Neuhoff Gallery in New York City.

1997    The State Tretyakov Gallery acquires “Dialogue,” 1961.

The Centre Georges Pompidou acquires Triptych No. 6: “We are in the World.”

Participation in the exhibition “Danse Macabre” at Museum Bochum in Germany (with Triptych No. 12: “Requiem” and the object-installation “Suicide in Landscape”.)

Studio in Montmartre. Work on the relief collages “Prophet” and “Meeting Point,” which Dina Vierny shows at a solo exhibition at FIAC-97. Pastels and collages are also shown.

1998-1999       Exhibition of the cycle “Anatomy of Feelings” at the Gallery Sandmann in Berlin.

Publication of the book Vladimir Jankilevskij. Radierungen in the Temmen Publishing House in Bremen, edited by Professor Wolfgang Schlott.

The exhibition “The City” opens in the Galerie Dewart in Brussels.

Work in Sweden on a series of silkscreens in the cycle “Woman by the Sea.” Exhibition of painting, works on paper, and collages in the Gallery Astley in Sweden.

2000    Participation in “Red House,” an exhibition of the Bernd Bierfreund Collection in Germany with “People in Boxes.”

Cycle “Portrait of a Man.”

2001    Exhibition at the Mane-Katz Museum in Haifa, Israel (with Samuel Ackerman).

Exhibition “Woman by the Sea” at the Galerie Dina Vierny in Paris.

2002    Triptych No. 18: “Day In, Day Out.”

Work continues on the cycles “Self-Portraits” and “Portraits of a Man.”

The exhibition “Self-Portraits” takes place at Group2Gallery in Brussels.

The exhibition “Collages” takes place at the Museum Bochum in Germany, accompanied by the publication of the monograph (book and CD-ROM) “Vladimir Yankilevsky. Variations of the Other,” written by David Riff and published by the Lotman Institute of Russian and Soviet Culture and the Museum Bochum.

“Female Torsos,” a cycle of collages.

The exhibition “Space of Experience” takes place in the Sam Brook Gallery in Moscow, curated by Sergei Popov.

Participation in the exhibition “Russian Nonconformists” of the Jean-Jacques Gueron Collection in Pamplona, Spain.

I began to work on the erotic plates series “Psychoanalysis of Aphrodite.”

2003    The exhibition “Mutants” takes place in the Krokin Gallery in Moscow.

My novel “And Two Figures…” is published by the NLO Publishing House in Moscow.

2004-2006       Relocation to a studio on Rue Saint Charles.

“Red Carrousel,” installation project.

The theme of harmony developed in “Adam and Eve,” a series of drawings from 1965, collides with  the theme of alienation in the contemporary world. Triptych No. 19: “Adam and Eve. III,” Triptych No. 20: “Adam and Eve. IV,” Triptych No. 21: “Adam and Eve. V.”

Work continues on the conception of the “Door” from 1972. “Door II. Dream Space.” “Door III. Solitude.” “Door. IV. At Home (Melancholy).”

Participation in “Art Moscow-2005.” The Moscow Museum of Modern Art acquires Triptych No. 20.

Participation in Art Moscow 2006 (“Door. IV).”

Triptych No. 22: “The Flow of Life.”

2007    Retrospect exhibition “Moment of Eternity” at the “EkaterinaCultural Foundation in Moscow, then at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.

The “Master” award for the best exhibition in 2007 in Moscow.

Triptych No. 23: “Memory (Experiencing the Past).”

2008    The continuation of the theme of loneliness and transformation of the human being into a mutant.

Triptych No. 24: “Sarcophagus.”

Work on the cycle “Megalopolis.” Triptych No. 25: “Metamorphosis.” Triptych No. 26: “Devils.” Triptych No. 27: “Alone.” Triptych No. 28: “Pursuit for by itself ”.

2009    Exhibition “Metamorphoses” at the “Pavilion des Arts et du Design” in the Tuileries Gardens and at the Galerie Le Minotaure, Paris.

2010-2011       Work on the cycle “Danae – Zeus. Immaculate Conception.”

Aktis Gallery organizes my big Retrospective “Anatomy of Feelings” at the Mall Galleries in London and publication of the book by the same title (Ed. Somogy Art Publishers, Paris).

The continuation of the cycle “Megalopolis.” Triptych No. 29: “Time of Geometry and Time of Mutations.”

Triptych No. 30: “Adam and Eve. VI. Banishment from Paradise.”

Exhibition “Squaring the Circle. Vladimir Yankilevsky, Oscar Rabin, Oleg Tselkov, Dmitry Krasnopevtsev” in the Aktis Gallery in London.

2013   Exhibition“Early Works. 1957 – 1961” at the Aktis Gallery in London.

Triptych No. 32: “Mistery of Being.”

Getting started with the cycle “The Divine Comedy.”

2014   Paintings, drawings and collages from the cycle “The Divine Comedy.”

Triptych No. 33: “The Divine Comedy.”

Triptych No. 34. “Talking to Yourself.”

2015   Triptych No. 35.“The Divine Comedy. II.The Last Jujment.”

Triptych No. 36. “The Divine Comedy. III.”

Triptych No. “Requiem.II.”

Triptych No. 38. “Sarcophagus. II.”

2016   Triptych No.  39. “Requiem.III.”

Triptych No.  40. “Between the Earth and the Sky.”

2017   Triptych No.  41. Not finished.

2018   He died in Paris on January 4th.