Igor Palmin: Photographing the Unofficial Soviet Art World

Flickr recently became a gateway into the art world of Soviet Russia thanks to photographer Igor Palmin, who uploaded his vast back catalogue onto the site.

During the 1950s Palmin worked as a film cameraman and his training in cinematography is conspicuous in these absorbing photographs. Mostly taken in black-and-white, the strong sense of narrative and romance is heightened further with nostalgia for a lost world.

Palmin decided to become a photographer full-time after befriending some of the leading unofficial artists of his generation, including Ernst Neizvestny, Vladimir Nemukhin and Oskar Rabin. He went on to document the development of the Nonconformist art scene in Moscow during the 1960s and ’70s, as painters and sculptors confronted the authorities and attempted to escape the dogma of Socialist Realism. Palmin’s photographs reveal intimate portraits of these artists and provide value records of lost works and forgotten exhibitions.

Images: Top – Painter Vladimir Nemukhin in his studio, 1980; Bottom – Sculptor Ernst Neizvestny in his studio, 1974. Photographs by Igor Palmin

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