Anatoly Zverev

Born: 1931, Moscow
Died: 1986, Moscow

Painter. Born in Moscow in the family of a worker called Timofei Zverev (1931). Attended the Moscow School of Art and Industry (1948–50) and the 1905 School of Art (1951, expelled after several months for his “personal appearance”). Studied art by visiting various studios, the Tretyakov Gallery and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow. Won a gold medal at the international plastic arts workshop held during the World Festival of Youth and Students (1957). Contributed to apartment exhibitions (1959–62). Collaborated with Greek collector George Costakis (1959–64). Held his first foreign one-man show at the Galerie Motte in Paris (1965). Contributed to the exhibitions at the Beekeeping Pavilion and House of Culture in the Exhibition of Economic Achievements in Moscow (1975). Supported by French conductor Igor Markevitch, who helped to arrange his first exhibitions in Paris and Geneva. He was a legendary figure in Moscow in everything that he did, including his bouts of alcoholism. The artist’s life and work became an original illustration of the myth of the vagabond – “a genius capable of creating a masterpiece with a sweep of the hand, yet wallowing in drunkenness and poverty.” Spent the typically lonely life of an underground artist, regarding Leonardo da Vinci as his only companion. Developed his own style based on expressive drawing and rapid improvisation (mid-1950s). Like the rest of his life, regarded the process of creating a work as a challenge. Often drew without looking at the paper, using a finger, cigarette butt or hunk of bread, recalling the Abstract Expressionists, who transformed their works into artistic actions and happenings. Rarely painted pure abstractions, tending to produce portraits, landscapes and still-lifes retaining elements of objective recognisability. Died in Moscow (1986). Only received official recognition after his death, when he was the subject of memoirs by Anna-Nina Kovalenko entitled ??? ???????? ??????? (1990s) and honoured with one-man shows at the Alexander Radischev Museum of Art in Saratov (1991) and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (1999).

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