Ernst Iosifovich Neizvestny
Ernst Iosifovich Neizvestny, born on 9 April 1925 in Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) is a famous and important Russian sculptor of the second half of the 20th century.He currently lives and works in New York. At the age of 17, Neizvestny joined the Red Army as a volunteer.At the close of War II, he was heavily wounded and sustained a clinical death.Although he was awarded the Order of the Red Star "posthumously" and his mother received an official notification that her son had died, Neizvestny managed to survive. In 1947, Neizvestny was enrolled at the Academy of Arts in Riga.He continued his education at the Surikov Moscow Art Institutute and the Philosophy Department of the Moscow State University. His sculptures, often based on the forms of the human body, are noted for their expressionism and powerful plasticity. Although his preferred material is bronze, his larger, monumental installations are often executed in concrete.Most of his works are arranged in extensive cycles, the best known of which is The Tree of Life, a theme he has developed since 1956. Although Nikita Khrushchev famously derided Neizvestny's works as degenerate at the Manege exhibition of 1962, the sculptor was later approached by Khruschev's relatives to construct a tomb for the former Soviet leader at the Novodevichy.Other well-known works he created during the Soviet period are Prometheus in Artek (1966) and the Lotus Flower at the Aswan Dam in Egypt (1971). In 1976, he moved from the USSR Switzerland, there he completes the Portrait of Dmitri Shostakovich in Bronze for Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. In 1977 Neizvestny moved to USA. During the 1980s, Neizvestny was a guest lecturer at the University of Oregon and at UC Berkeley. In 1996, Neizvestny completed his Mask of Sorrow, a 15-meter tall monument to the victims of Soviet purges, situated in Magadan. The same year, he was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation. Although he still lives in New York City, Neizvestny frequently visits Moscow and celebrated his 80th birthday there. A museum dedicated to his sculptures was established in Uttersberg, Sweden (1989). Some of his crucifixion statues were acquired by John Paul II for the Vatican Museums. In 2004 Neizvestny became an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts and the 6 meter tall sculpture The Tree of Life was placed at 16 Krasnoprenenskaya Naberezhnaya, entrance to Bagration Bridge, Moscow.
The Ernst Neizvestny Art Museum opened in Yekaterinburg, Russia on Ernst Neizvestnys 88th birthday, April 9, 2013.