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Biography of Boris Savelev

Savelev

  • Biography

    Boris Savelev is one of the most important and well-known photographers working in Russia today. He first came to the attention of the art-world in the west with the publication of Secret City by Thames and Hudson in 1981. This established Boris Savelevs´s reputation as one of the most serious artists of a new generation of photographers emerging from the former USSR.Savelev’s extraordinary photographic work has earned him a place in major international collections worldwide, among them, the Corcoran Galley in Washington, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Staatsgallerie of Stuttgart, the Saarland Museum in Saarbrucken, Germany, our Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe and many other major institutions.

    In 1986, at the start of Perestroyka (rebuilding), Thomas Neurath, the director of Thames and Hudson visited Moscow looking for ‘unofficial’ artists. He selected Boris Savelev and in 1988 the monograph Secret City was published. This was the first book published in the west of an unofficial photographer living in the Soviet Union. Up until 1988 all of the works that Boris Savelev had exhibited were black and white prints but he had been experimenting with colour photography since the early 1980’s. When producing Secret City , Thames and Hudson selected a group of these colour photographs which had been taken using Orwachrome film. The poor quality of the colour, and the additional problems of the lithographic reproduction failed to capture the complexity and density that the artist wanted. In 1987 he discovered Kodachrome film and all his colour work taken on film since that time has used Kodachrome. In the years following its publication most of Boris Savelev’s work has been an enquiry into colour photography. Since 1995 most of his images have been captured digitally.

    After the initial disappointment with the reproductions in Secret City Boris started to look for alternative printing processes. He worked with C Type prints, but anxious about their fugitive nature and unhappy with the uniform surface of the paper he started looking into dye transfer prints and then pigment transfer prints. He experimented with many of the nineteenth century processes becoming a master of gum bichromate printing (both in black and white and colour), platinum printing and Kallitype. Cameraworks was his inspiration and pictorialist photographers like Steichen, Kertész, Lartigue and Demarchy interested him, both for the quality of the prints and for the integrity of the images.

    In 1995 he was invited to Germany by Alexander Von Berswordt Walrabe to show with M Bochum. Alexander decided to produce an edition of 15 of Boris’s images and was persuaded to make them as pigment transfer prints. The process is time consuming and difficult but with the right materials it is capable of producing beautiful images of great complexity and with a slight surface relief. Permaprint was the only studio in Europe capable or realising this edition and once a visa was obtained Boris was sent to London. This was the start of a long relationship between Boris and myself in search of the perfect way to manifest his images. Permaprint morphed into Factum Arte and moved to Madrid. Factum Arte developed the interest in surface and started building and acquiring 3D scanners. Digital printers were bought and taken to bits. It became clear that we had to develop a flatbed printer. This has now been perfected. New surfaces were investigated using materials usually associated with painting. These were subjected to rigorous testing and analysis, modified and tested again. Boris began to prepare his files to be printed in layers, a task that requires a very different sensibility from normal photographic printing.

    Adam Lowe

  • Solo Shows

    1978 Editions of magazine “Soviet Photo ”, Moscow
    1979 Museum of photo Kaunas, Lithuania
    1981 Museums of photo Shauliay, Lithuania
    1992 Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
    1993 Museums of Photo collections, Moscow
    1994 State museum “Art Gallery”, Kaliningrad
    1995 Gallery “mBochum” Bochum, Germany
    1996 Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany
    1997 Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
    1999 “ifa-Galerie” Bonn, Germany
    2000 “ifa-Galerie” Berlin, Germany
    Kunsthaus, Dresden, Germany
    State Museum of Art, Cottbus, Germany
    School of Arts, Leer, Germany
    2001 Anahita Gallery, Santa-Fe, USA
    Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia
    2002 State Museum “Tretyakov Gallery” Government award, Moscow
    2003 “Fine Art Gallery” University of Wuppertal, Germany
    Anahita Gallery, Santa-Fe, USA
    2004 “Squares” Photosoyz gallery, Moscow
    “City no time” State Moscow museum of modern art, Moscow
    2006 “la nostalgia di uno squardo perduto” Palazzo Magnani,
    Reggio-Emilia, Italy, catalogue
    “Colour & B/W” National Centre of contemporary
    Photography, St. Petersburg, Russia, catalogue
    2007 “31 Years” Guereta Gallery, Madrid, Spain, catalog
    2008 “Out of time” Moscow House of Photography
    2009 Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, UK
    2011 °CLAIR, München, Germany
    2013  Michael Hoppen Gallery, London, UK

  • Collections

    Corcoran Museum, Washington, USA
    DG Bank Frankfurt, Germany
    Museum of Fine Art, Santa-Fe, New Mexico, USA
    Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany
    Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
    Fine Art Museum, Cottbus, Germany
    Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
    State “Russian Museum”, St .Petersburg
    State Museum “Art Gallery”, Kaliningrad, Russia
    MBochum Gallery, Bochum, Germany
    Anahita Gallery, Santa-Fe, USA
    Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, USA
    Calcografie Nacional, Madrid, Spain
    State Museum “House of Photography”, Moscow, Russia
    Factum-Arte, Madrid, Spain
    University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany
    Arte Naturalesa Group, Madrid, Spain
    State Center of Contemporary photography, St. Petersburg Russia
    °CLAIR, München, Germany
    MOMA, San Francisco, USA

  • Publications

    1978 Soviet Photo / portfolio
    1979 Soviet Photo
    1984 Russian painting in Ukrainian Museums Mistectvo, Kiev
    1985 Soviet Photo / portfolio
    Foto DDR/portfolio
    1986 Another Russia, Thames&Hudson, London
    Cheskoslovenska fotografie/portfolio Creative Camera/portfolio London
    1988 Secret City, Boris Savelev. Thames&Hudson, London
    Revue fotografie a 88/portfolio
    1989 Aperture/portfolio NY.USA
    1991 World&I/portfolio Washington. USA
    Changing Reality. Starwood pb. USA
    1993 Über die grossen Städte. Berlin
    1995 Contemporary Photographers SJpress London
    1999 Momente der Dauer, Bonn
    Hot Shue/portfolio London
    2000 Bauwelt /portfolio Berlin
    Brennpunkt mag Berlin
    Photography Now Magazine Berlin
    PhotoNews magazine Hamburg
    2001 Madrid a torno el Sol/ Estampa Digital/portfolio Calcografia National Madrid
    2003 Stationen des Augenblicks/ University of Wuppertal, Germany, Factum-arte, Madrid/ Portfolio
    2005 de Fotograaf magazine/Portfolio Amsterdam
    2006 “la nostalgia di uno squardo perduto” Skira, Milan
    2009 Guardian, London UK
    Evening Standard, London UK
    British Journal of Photography, UK
    2010 Street Photography Now, Thames&Hudson, London UK