Cover image for Centaur : the life and art of Ernst Neizvestny
Centaur : the life and art of Ernst Neizvestny
Leong, Albert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, [2002]

Physical Description:
xx, 353 pages, 48 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
NB699.N4 L46 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Preserving art, freedom, and human dignity in the age of the totalitarian state was one of the great challenges of the twentieth century. In Centaur, Slavic scholar Albert Leong chronicles the life and work of the greatest living Russian sculptor and philosopher of art. Based on extensive research in the formerly closed Soviet archives, exclusive interviews with Neizvestny, his family, and friends, Centaur tells the amazing story of a visionary artist and World War II commando officer who narrowly escaped death on the battlefield, successfully defied Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and the KGB to create acclaimed works of monumental art. Forced into exile to the West in 1976, Ernst Neizvestny returned in triumph to the Soviet Union in 1989 to design the first monuments in Russia to the countless victims of Stalinist political repression. Supplemented by 75 photographs, Centaur will engross specialists and general readers interested in biography, cultural history, art, architecture, politics, and Russian/Soviet studies. Visit the Ernst Neizvestny Studio Web site.

Author Notes

Albert Leong received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is professor emeritus of Slavic languages at the University of Oregon. A specialist on modern Russian culture and the leading Western authority on Ernst Neizvestny

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Russian sculptor and artist Neizvestny led an active life at the intersection of art and politics. In the first part of this study of the sculptor's life and work, Leong (emer., Slavic languages, Univ. of Oregon) shows that although Neizvestny had the benefit of rigorous Soviet academic training at Moscow's Surikov Institute just after WW II, he also acutely felt the deadening effects of Soviet ideological control. Leong describes at great length Neizvestny's passage to fame in the early 1960s, when he openly opposed Khrushchev-era artistic policies. His subsequent fate, in Russia and in emigration, is presented in a methodical, academic way with ample documentation. Yet Leong inserts himself into the narrative and makes it clear that he has been personally acquainted with Neizvestny over a considerable period of time. On one hand this gives the account greater immediacy, but there are also sections in which the adulatory, personal tone raises questions about critical objectivity. This is a book for those interested in the details of 20th-century Russian art with its social and political ramifications. A selection of black-and-white photographs gives a general idea of the artist's work and glimpses of his life. General readers; graduate students; faculty. W. C. Brumfield Tulane University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Prefacep. xiii
Chronologyp. xvii
Introduction: The Odyssey of a Russian Artistp. 1
1 Roots of a Russian Centaurp. 15
2 The Formation of an Artist in the Soviet Unionp. 29
3 The Artist in Warp. 39
4 Rigap. 51
5 Moscowp. 61
6 The Challengerp. 79
7 Art Intriguesp. 97
8 Confrontation with Khrushchevp. 113
9 The Years of Disfavorp. 133
10 Ernst Neizvestny, Monumentalistp. 149
11 Road to Emigrationp. 167
12 Exilep. 177
13 Return to Russiap. 203
14 The Gulag Trianglep. 215
15 Mask of Mourningp. 247
16 Shelter Foundp. 273
Notesp. 287
Exhibitionsp. 311
Collectionsp. 313
Bibliographyp. 315
Indexp. 337
About the Authorp. 353