Vladimir Nemukhin

12 November 1925, Moscow

Nemukhin started attending the studio of Pyotr Efimovich Sokolov (once a colleague of Malevich), where he learned some of the ideas of the avant-garde of the early twentieth centuries. He remained Sokolov’s friend and student until his death. In 1943-1946, he studied at the studio of fine arts at the Central Soviet of Professional Unions. He earned money working as a designer and poster artist in various factories. In 1968 he started working as an illustrator for Vokrug Sveta [Around the World] magazine. He met Oskar Rabin in 1956. Nemukhin became an active member of the Lianozovo group, a circle of poets and artists uncompromisingly seeking a free path in art. He was the common law husband of Lydia Masterkova (1954-1968). He took part in the exhibition at the Druzhba Club on Entusiastov Chausee in 1966; it was shut down the same day by the authorities. In 1969, he was in the exhibition at the Institute of International Relations, which lasted only fifteen minutes and also shut down. In 1974, he took an active part in organizing the exhibition on the empty lot in Belyaevo, later known as the Bulldozer Show. After the show was broken up, he was one of the main negotiators with the authorities in creating the painting section of the Moscow City Committee [Gorkom] of Graphic Artists (1975-1991), where many unofficial artists could have “employment.” The City Committee also received an exhibition space at 28, Malaya Gruzinskaya Street, where Nemukhin played an important role. Nemukhin’s works were shown in many of the major exhibitions abroad of unofficial Russian art, including Unofficial Art from the Soviet Union in ICA in London in 1977. His works are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, and the Tretyakov Gallery, among many other collections. He lives in Moscow in his family home in Priluki (80 km south of Moscow) and occasionally in Dusseldorf. Vladimir Nemukhin is one of the few Russian artists of his generation who was free of the painterly dogmas of Socialist Realism from the start. He was familiar of the ideas of the Russian avant-garde of the early nineteenth century and was free in his choice of painting manner. In 1958, Nemukhin made his first nonfigurative work, which served as the start of a series of abstracts. He began including playing cards in his works in 1965; this newfound motif was varied in different techniques from painted relief to assemblage. He included other found objects in his work, but playing cards remained the main motif of his work until the late 1980s, when the artist began working more in sculpture, both wooden and bronze. Even though Nemukhin had started doing wooden sculpture in the spirit of the early avant-garde in the late 1950s, returning to this form of art over and over, the watershed of his painting and sculpture periods comes in the early 1990s.