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Moscow artists of the second half of the twentieth century, who worked in Soviet times, were a special caste of creative people who created their canvases on the split of ideas and trends in art. Among these are the name conceptual artist Viktor Pivovarov - figures in art are quite significant, interesting and mysterious. As a painter, graphic artist, theorist, memoirist and writer, he managed to combine in his work the seemingly incompatible and in no way intersecting: children's illustration and adult conceptualism, the line between which is sometimes difficult to draw in his work.
Viktor Povovarov stood at the origins of Moscow conceptualism - a newfangled trend in the visual arts, which in the 60s and 70s captivated many progressive-minded artists. Viktor Dmitrievich together with the notorious Ilya Kabakov practically invented the genre of the conceptual album. This type of creativity has gained immense popularity thanks to witty artwork that carries the interaction of various visual languages. At the same time, in the work of Pivovarov himself, he almost always had a fascinating, playful character and was marked by a lively improvisational beginning, and also demonstrated the full range of the master's capabilities: easel artist, book graphic artist, illustrator and inventor.
In fact, the artist's works are puzzles composed of reflections, real and fantastic images, and as for the pictorial manner, they are dominated by motifs of surrealism and book illustration, which in turn are subordinated to absurdism and polystylistic experiments. This is where their value lies. Therefore, many of the master's works are currently kept in the Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum and other leading domestic and foreign galleries, they are also in price on the world art market.
A little about conceptualism
The public has always been and is not indifferent to the painting of multifaceted, extraordinary, original artists, no matter how incomprehensible and sometimes shocking to their work.
Of course, such a worldview and creativity of dissidents was not pleasing to the authorities, hence the secret associations, and persecution, and emigration. However, as is known from historical data, neither bans nor arrests broke the spirit of Soviet informal artists. Some left the country and worked in this direction, others literally survived and created their works by hook or by crook in the union.
Children's illustration as a cover
An interesting fact is that some of them, thanks to children's publishing houses, even lived with dignity. Illustrating books for children could earn decent money - for example, for the design of the book "The House That Jack Built" the artist Ilya Kabakov was given a fee, for which he built an art studio on Sretensky Boulevard. By the way, at that time, the work of illustrators was judged by labor intensity, which is why detailing and the depiction of many characters in illustrations of those years were so popular.
Curiously, Pivovarov, referring himself to the artists of "informal art" and being the founder of this movement, for many years, up to 1977, did not take part in a single exhibition, even permitted by the authorities, where the works of informals were exhibited. His name has never appeared anywhere in the reports on art protests, neither in the 60s nor in the 70s. He, like Ilya Kabakov, very carefully, without making any sudden movements, passed the 20-year obstacle course created by the Soviet government in relation to underground artists.
Viktor Pivovarov graduated from the Moscow Polygraphic Institute in 1962, began his career with illustrating poems and fairy tales of his wife Irina, and later illustrated her “adult” lyrics. In 1964 he made his debut at the Children's Literature publishing house. And five years later he became the leading artist of the children's magazine Veselye Kartinki, where he worked for more than ten years. By the way, it was Viktor Dmitrievich who in 1979 created the notorious logo of the letters-men on the cover of the magazine, which exists with minor changes to this day.
Pivovarov's works for the book "Unusual Pedestrian", published in 1965, became significant. These illustrations caused a wide response: many accused him of ambiguous secret symbols hidden behind his simple illustrations. Later, the artist himself admitted that he loved to illustrate children's poems, because they gave freedom of interpretation of the text. Thanks to this work, he gained recognition as an illustrator.
Viktor Pivovarov began his creative path in conceptualism when he was already over thirty, and when he had his own workshop, thanks to the same Ilya Kabakov. It was then that he began to create his informal painting, which until 1977 the city authorities did not even suspect, inspired by the works of Magritte, Chagall, Miro, Picasso.
Ask how a simple illustrator living behind the Iron Curtain could gain access to information about Western contemporary art in those years. Yes, everything turned out to be as easy as shelling pears.. So our hero visited it quite often, and it was there that he studied the world of contemporary world art, looking at all kinds of albums with reproductions of paintings by surrealists, modernists, abstractionists and artists of other new trends.
For fifteen years, Viktor Pivovarov had a chance, hiding behind children's illustrations, and in his workshop secretly with ecstasy to work on what his soul longed for. But one day the artist had a chance, at the beginning of the 80s he met in Moscow with the Czech Milena Slavitskaya. And already in 1982, having divorced his wife, he married Milena and left for Czechoslovakia and settled in Prague, where he still lives and continues to work in his conceptual direction of radical romanticism, creating his own mystical world.
Read about the fate and work of the informal artist of the 60's who emigrated from the USSR:The philosopher artist who paints the passing times: Soviet American Yuri Cooper.
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