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Yuri Zlotnikov

Yuri Savelievich Zlotnikov (1930 — 2016)

Soviet and Russian abstractionist, graphic artist, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Arts. 

Yuri Zlotnikov was bon on April 23, 1930, in Moscow. 

In 1943-1950 he went to the art school of the Russian Academy of Arts. During this time he was a frequent visitor of the sculpture studio of the memorial studio-museum of Anna Golubkina. After several unsuccessful attempts to enter art school Zlotnikov became an intern at the Bolshoi theatre. He worked in the team of the theatre artist Fedorov, author of scene design for Swan Lake (alongside A.Tyshler, V.Ryndin, I.Rabinovich). Beyond that, in 1951-1961 Zlotnikov worked as artist and designer at All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) in the Agricultural Mechanization and Electrification Pavilion. 

In 1955-1970 Zlotnikov created illustrations for various magazines. 

Owing to his friends’ diverse interests Zlotnikov became enthusiastic about mathematics, logics and later cybernetics. He attended biomathematics workshops of the famous mathematician I.Gelfand in the MSU. Zlotnikov viewed mathematics with an artist’s eye – as a key to understanding plasticity: «Communication with mathematicians has shown me that besides verbal operations there is a simpler language – that of our physiology». At this point he started to experiment with abstraction elaborating his «alarm system» – a certain type of rhythmics encoded in the image. In the long run the artist met scientists from the electrophysiology laboratory at the Botkin hospital. He was interested in the impact his art had on the biology of his spectators. He registered the results of this research in his lecture at a conference devoted to engineering psychology. Interest to human perception of objects during work time motivated Zlotnikov to create several projects of industrial facilities.

In 1972 he became a member of the Moscow Union of Artists and enrolled in the graphic section (he was admitted by Ilya Kabakov). Around the same time the artist became interested in children’s art. He was sent on a trip to Central Asia where he collected artworks made by children for a grand exhibition abroad. The research became important for personal identity formation of the artist. It was yet another step in his exploration of human psychology. Work with children fascinated the artist so much that he started to teach at the Youth Center in the Lenin district. 

Since 1978 Zlotnikov once again turned to abstraction. He called this ten years period of his life (1978-1988) the methaphorics stage. At this time his art was devoted to religious, humanistic, social, historical and metahistorical subjects. 

In 1988 Zlotnikov received a silver medal from the Russian Academy of Fine Arts. 

In the 2000s some of his artworks demonstrate that a new subject of the artist’s interest is the visual language of Internet. At this time Zlotnikov often used poster printing technique. His works are stored and exhibited in various museums, including the Pompidou Center, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the State Russian Museum and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art.