Mikhail Schwartzmann

Born: 1926, Moscow
Died: 1997, Moscow

Painter, graphic artist, designer. Born in Moscow (1926) in the family of a NEP businessman called Matvei Schwartzmann, who was often arrested and died in a concentration camp (1942). Educated in an orphanage after his mother was exiled to Siberia and served in the army (1944–50). Studied at the Moscow School of Art and Industry (1950–56). Worked for the Combine of Decorative Art (1956–66). Designed industrial art, books and posters. Created four monumental panels from cement and smalt for the Moscow Institute of Physics and Engineering. Won first prize at the All-Union Exhibition of Monumental Art. Head designer of the Exhibition of Economic Achievements in Moscow (1957–58) and the Legprom Special Bureau of Art and Construction (1966–84). Rarely exhibited paintings and did not join the Union of Artists. Did not join any artistic group. Belonged to the metaphysical movement in Soviet art (1960s–70s). Developed his own system of “hieratures” drawn from the Greek word for “sacred” (1959). Painted a large cycle of meta-portraits (first half of the 1960s). Crossed over to sign-architectonic hieratures (mid-1960s). Worked in tempera on board covered in a traditional chalk priming, following the technical canons of Old Russian icon-painting. Combined modernist devices with archaic-religious semantics in his hieratures. Founded the hieratic school of painting based on his own hieratic concept (1974–79). Founder of the Schwartzmann school of industrial graphic art and book illustrations. Lived and worked in Moscow. Died in Moscow (1997). Contributed to exhibitions in Russia, Holland, Bulgaria, Poland, France, Britain, Germany and the United States (from 1960), including a one-man show at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (1994).

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