|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Born in Russia and then after World War II going to Switzerland and
ultimately New York City, Ernst Neizvestny became a sculptor of large
public monuments as well as smaller works, each created with the
conviction that "the sculpture contains within itself a dialogue
between spirit and flesh."|
Of him in the New York City Tribune, March 29, 1988, it was
written: "In just a matter of years, [Neizvestny] has established
himself as an internationally-renowned modern American master." And
American sculptor Alexander Calder said to Neizvestny: "All my life I
create the work of children, and you create the work of man."
Among his monumental works and public sculptures are Lotus Blossom at the Aswan Dam in Egypt, which reportedly is the largest sculpture in the world; Monument for All the World Children
at the Artek Pioneer Camp in the Crimea, Ukraine; the tombstone of
Nikita Khrushchev at the Novodevechiy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia;
the bust of Dmitri Shostakovich at the Kennedy Center in Washington
DC; the Holocaust monument in Riga, Latvia; and the Tree of Life II at the United Nations in New York City.
Neizvestny's early education was in the USSR, where he attended art
schools in Leningrad and Samarkand during World War II. From 1942
to 1945, he was in the Soviet Armed Forces as an airborne commando
officer. On April 22, 1945, he was severely wounded in Austria
and declared dead, "posthumously" receiving for heroism the Order of
the Red Star.
In 1945, he taught drawing at the Suvorov Institute in Sverdlovsk, and
the next year enrolled in the Academy for Fine Arts in Riga,
Latvia. From 1947 to 1954, he studied art at the Surikov
Institute of Art in Moscow, and in 1955, he became a member of the
Moscow Branch of the Sculpture Section of the Union of Soviet Artists.
In Moscow from 1954 to 1962, he was active in numerous exhibitions and
completed numerous monuments, many of them linked to the War including
the national monument of the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany for which
he won a Soviet competition.
In 1976, he emigrated to the West, going first to Zurich, Switzerland
and then to New York City. The following years were highly
productive for Ernst Neizvestny. In 1983, he presented his Heart of Christ
sculpture to Pope John Paul II and began lecturing at United States
universities on art and philosophy. He was a guest professor at
New York University, Harvard University, Yale University, Columbia
University and the University of California at Berkeley.
Neizvestny also wrote essays that were published in a book titled Space, Time and Synthesis in Art, did illustrations for the writings of Samuel Beckett, and over 200 etchings for a publication titled Book of Man's Fate. He did numerous commissions and exhibitions in Russia and other parts of Europe, did illustrations for the Book of Job and a sculpture series called Animal Power. In 2000, President-elect Vladimir Putin of Russia awarded Neizvestny the Medal of Honor for Artistic Achievement.
Website of the artist: http://www.enstudio.com/about_artist/
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