Igor Palmin

7 January 1933, Volgograd (Stalingrad)

Palmin was born into a family of actors. He grew up in Voronezh, graduated from the geology department of the university there, and worked as a geologist. In 1958, after his father’s death, he started working as a photo correspondent and then a television cameraman. He studied at VGIK, the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in 1959-1962 and began working in film. He moved to Moscow in 1962: he was a cameraman for the “Laboratory of Applied Science Photography and Cinematography of the Academy of Sciences USSR. Then he worked as an editor in the science department of Central Television (1967-1971).

In 1966, Palmin met Ernst Neizvestny, and two years after that, Vladimir Nemukhin and Oskar Rabin. Meeting the artists changed Palmin’s life. He became a professional photographer. He left his work at the Academy of Sciences and moved to the Union of Artists, where he created photographic essays about Moscow’s art life. He worked for major publishing houses: Sovetsky Khudozhnik [Soviet Artist], Iskusstvo [Art], and Stroiizdat [Construction Publishers]; and magazines: Dekorativnoe iskusstvo [Decorative Art], Tvorchestvo, and Sovetskaya arkhitektura [Soviet Architecture]. Palmin created a gallery of portraits of Russian artists, covered exhibitions, and documented events in the unofficial artistic life. In 1974-1975, he made a series of albums (each in ten copies, hand made), with a section devoted to a single artist, with photographs of the person and the work. The featured artists included Oskar Rabin, Vladimir Nemukhin, Lydia Masterkova, Yevgeny Rukhin, Anatoly Zverev, Ilya Kabakov, Vladimir Yankilevsky, and Oleg Tselkov, several dozen in all.  In 1975, Palmin documented the most important exhibitions of unofficial art in Moscow: at Izmailovo Park (the first open air show permitted by the authorities) and the exhibitions at the Beekeeping Pavilion at VDNKh (Economic Achievements Exhibition).

As a friend of Vladimir Nemukhin, Oskar Rabin, and Dmitri Plavinsky, Igor Palmin had entrée to the life of Lianozovo Group and took many photographs. He also visited Ilya Kabakov’s studio and made a series of portraits of the artists of the Moscow Conceptualist school. Palmin created a chronicle of Moscow’s unofficial art scene of the 1970s with portraits of all its participants.

He traveled around the Soviet Union and took photos everywhere: “Chechnya” series (1970), abandoned Russian churches, life in Central Asia, genre scenes in Moscow streets, and much more. Palmin devoted a lot of time to images of “ordinary” people. In 1980, his main theme became architecture, and he created photos for book on Moscow history and architecture. He photographed Art Nouveau, Constructivist, Stalinist, and ancient Russian architecture. Igor Palmin stopped working in 2004. He lives in Moscow. He has participated in numerous exhibitions and dozens of books. Igor Palmin was given a solo exhibition in 2011 at the Ekaterina Foundation, with a large catalog of his works.