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Mikhail Koulakov, born in Moscow in 1933, is a representative of the Soviet avant-garde of the 1960s; he graduated in set design under Nikolai Akimov, artist and director, at Leningrad’s Institute for Theatrical Arts in 1962, and started his career in Moscow and Leningrad where his works were displayed in alternative spaces to Socialist realism. In 1976 he went to live in Italy.
March 10 to May 29, 2011 Rome, Museo Hendrik Christian Andersen, Mikhail Koulakov. Signs Of Spirituality. Works from 1960 to 2010
Auditorium of San Domenico (Narni 1988), 1989: The Soviet Union Foundation of Culture, ex-riding school of the Czars in Leningrad and Riga Arsenal; architectural complex “San Michele a Ripa” in Rome (1991), 1993: Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow, State Ethnographic Museum, St. Petersburg, and Palazzo Ruspoli in Rome; “Bibliomediateca” (Terni 1996), CERP “Centro Espositivo Rocca Paolina” (Perugia 2003).
Mikhail Koulakov has had also numerous one-man shows in private galleries in many countries.
Selected Group Exhibitions:
1977: “Salon d'Art Sacre” in Paris; “X Quadriennale” in Rome; Venice Biennial “La nuova arte sovietica. Una prospettiva non ufficiale”; 1979: “20 Jahre unabhaengiger Kunst aus der Sovjetunion”, Museum Bochum, Bochumkunstsammlung, Bochum; 1994: “IV Biennale di Arte Sacra”, San Gabriele, Teramo; 1995: “From Gulag to glasnost” Norton and Nancy Dodge Collection, Jane Vorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, USA; 1996: “Non konformisty-Seconda avanguardia russa”, Collezione Bar-Ger: The Russian State Museum, St. Petersburg - State Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow - Staedel Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt am Main - Kunsthaus, Leverkusen and 1997: Josef Albers Museum, Quadrat Bottrop; “Arte Metro Roma” project, mosaic at Anagnina metro station, Rome; 1998: “Anatomia Sovremennogo iskusstva” St. Petersburg, 1999: “Die Suche nach der Freiheit. Moskauer Kuenstler der 50er und 70er Jahre”, Berlin-Hamburg; “Un colore in più”, Spazio Krizia, Milan; 2000: “Un angelo per la città”, Rocca Paolina, Perugia; 2001: “Abstrakzia v Rossii”, Russian State Museum, St. Petersburg, 2003: “Moskovskaja abstrakzia, 2. polovina XX veka”, State Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow. 2008 Trans-Expression Russe, Galerie Rosa, Montecarlo
Migrazioni d’arte contemporaneadall’Umbria. La collezione e gli artisti Rain Gallery, Pechino, China
In 1993 he was elected senior academician of the Fine Arts Academy “Pietro Vannucci” in Perugia.
His works are on permanent display in the following museums:
The State Russian Museum, St. Petersburg; Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; State Tretjakov Gallery, Moscow; State Gallery of Fine Arts, Penza; Musée d’Art Contemporain du Montreal, Canada; Jane Vorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, New Jersey, USA; Municipal Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, Rome; Museum “Stauros” of Contemporary Sacred Art, San Gabriele, Teramo; Museum of “Arte delle Generazioni Italiane del Novecento G. Bargellini”, Pieve di Cento, Bologna; Anagnina Metro Station, Rome
Works in public collections:
Bank of Italy, Rome; Fond Russkoi kultury, Moscow; Kolodzei Art Foundation
Moscow/USA; Cartiere Miliani, Fabriano; Fine Arts Academy “P.Vannucci”, Perugia; Province of Aquila; Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Rome
…”Koulakov first emerged as an artist in 1960 with the series of very personal drawings entitled The birth of the Modern World and The War for Peace, produced in Leningrad in a Style of Surrealist gesture in the uninhibited confusion of human figures and faces against a background of free brushstrokes. The brushstrokes, automatic in its application, represented the result of an instinctive abstract Surrealism, while in the large works like Warriors or other figures the informal style of Koulakov was seen in lines and areas of large, spontaneous, colourful and instinctively effusive strokes of color with a strong suggestion of emotion. And in fact the informal style of Koulakov developed from the iconizing of the stroke itself, thick with paint and rapidly gesture. That interest in the imaginary nature of ancient Russian icons, which served as an influence during his formative period in the second half of the 1950s, reemerges as an informal gestural mark and provides the framework of the outlines of figures in the following years, for exemple in 1963 in Apocalypse, and again in 1967 in Cosmogony …” ( Enrico Crispolti, A voyage of spirit and sign from abstract surrealism to object constructions in space, Narni 1988)
“…the uncontrollable running riot of the spontaneity of colour, already caracteristic of the early Russian avant-garde….The drive to express oneself gives way to the discovery of the truth, to the search of the absolute. This quest, like the aspiration to the material spontaneity of colour, is equally present in the conscience of the Russian avant-garde… (Marina Bessonova, Koulakov and the abstract Art, Terni 1996)
Information courtesy of Marianna Molla Koulakov