Tair  Salakhov

Tair Salakhov

  • Silver medal of the USSR Academy of Arts (1960)
  • State prize of the USSR (1968)
  • State prize of the Azerbaijan SSR (1970)
  • State prize of the Russian Federation (2013)
  • Heydar Aliyev Prize (2015)
  • Honoured art worker of Azerbaijan SSR (1960)
  • People's artist of Azerbaijan SSR (1963)
  • People's artist of the USSR (1973)
  • Hero Of Socialist Labour (1989)
  • People's artist of Russia (1996)
Tair Salakhov is a legendary Soviet, Azerbaijan, Russian artist of an enormous, versatile character; a living classic and one of the most significant and bright painters of the 1950s-1960s generation, the founder of the "severe style". In addition to his excellence in painting, Salakhov has achieved notable success in other areas of art, for instance, he is a great theatrical set designer. He successfully combined a brilliant artistic career with teaching and was elevated to the status of Professor. Salakhov taught at the Surikov Art Institute in Moscow for more than twenty years. Being pampered by his creative destiny and superiors, he spent about thirty years in leadership positions in the Union of artists of the USSR. Among other things, Salakhov is also a repeated winner of various awards, was assigned numerous prestigious titles and was elevated to the status of People's Artist of the USSR. The name of the artist is associated with several rather radical reforms in the Union of artists; he was at the origins of the Youth Association under the Union of artists of the USSR, as well as, in every way provided assistance and support to other talented colleagues, using his high position in state institutions. It was with the aid of Salakhov, that the world of modern Western art, which had been an absolutely restricted topic in the Soviet Union up to that point, was opened to the Soviet audience. Salakhov vigorously contributed to personal exhibitions of such giants of modernism as Francis Bacon, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Jones, and many others, in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The artist was born on November 29, 1928, in Baku in the family of an Azerbaijani party worker, formerly a worker in oil fields, Teymur Salakhov, who was arrested and executed in 1937, being proclaimed "an enemy of the people". This tragic circumstance influenced both the artist's childhood and left a strong imprint on his entire subsequent life. His father's name was rehabilitated "for lack of evidence" only in 1956, when the artist was already 28 years old. Tair Salakhov's mother, Sona, was left alone to raise five children after her husband's death. At the age of fifteen, Tair was forced to leave school and get a job as a controller at the Baku water supply station. However, the desire to paint and study art led him to the Azerbaijan art school named after A. Azimazi in 1945. After graduating from school in 1950, Salakhov went to Leningrad to enter the Academy of Arts. Unfortunately, in consequence of the fact that he was the son of the repressed "enemy of the people", he was denied training even after he passed the entrance exams. Without succumbing to despair because of the injustice of what had happened, Salakhov went to the rector of the Leningrad Higher Art and Industrial School named after V. I. Mukhina (now Saint Petersburg Art and industry Academy named after A. Stieglitz), where he was to find out whether he even should pass an entrance exam, given his biography. The rector showed great courage at the time, saying that the student's biography does not matter if he passes the exams. Salakhov successfully passed the exams but studied there for only one year. Withdrawing from the institution because of an intense conflict with the Department of Military Training, the young artist went to Moscow in 1951 and entered the Surikov Art Institute. Salakhov was assigned to the studio of P. D. Pokarzhevsky. The artist began to regularly participate in major national, all-Union and international exhibitions since 1952. In 1957, Salakhov graduated with honours from the Institute with a degree in painting submitting a diploma work "The shift is over", which immediately has raised the artist to the level of leading artists of the Soviet Union. In the same year he joined the Union of Artists of the USSR. Many art critics have noticed that the work of Salakhov has two striking, contrasting in its essence, qualities: it is, on the one hand, acute contemporaneity, even sometimes, a feeling that the work of Salakhov is ahead of their time, and on the other, a sense of kinship with the classics, with something eternal and established. At an early stage of his work, Salakhov turned to the topic of everyday life of oil workers from the shores of the Caspian Sea and their mothers. The influence of post-impressionism, and more than all - the influence of Van Gogh and Cezanne, has been also evidently present in his work. He has painted many beautiful portraits of cultural figures, relatives and friends. Still-lifes and landscapes of the artist have also been widely recognised. Salakhov's pedagogical activity began in 1963 at the Azerbaijan state Institute named after M. Aliyev. In 1975, he began teaching at the Moscow Art Institute named after V. I. Surikov, and in 1973, he received the title of Professor. The artist traveled around the world, visiting the United States, Germany, Japan, Italy, France, Mexico, among other countries. From these trips, he always brought a lot of work: travel reportage sketches, watercolours and oil paintings. Being a gifted set designer, Salakhov is especially known for his scenery for the performances "Antony and Cleopatra", "Aydin", "Babek", "Hamlet", "Ker Ogly", "Cabinet History", "Behind the Geen Door".

An overwhelming artistic career of Tair Salakhov is combined with no less rapid ascent in the administrative hierarchy. It is difficult even to list all the numerous awards, diplomas, titles, medals and posts of this renowned artist as well as public figure. In 1959, Salakhov received the prize of the Communist Youth Union and the diploma of the VII World Festival of Youth and Students in Vienna for his work "Morning echelon"; in 1960 - a silver medal of the USSR Academy of Arts; in 1968, he became the winner of the most important prize - the State Prize of the USSR; in 1973, he received a title of the People's Artist of the USSR. In 1979, Salakhov was awarded the title of Academician-Secretary of the Russian Academy of Arts for the Department of Painting, in 1996 - Vice-President of the Academy of Arts, member of the Presidium, etc. From 1972 to 1974 Salakhov was a Chairman of the Union of artists of the Azerbaijan SSR, and from 1973 to 1992 he served as the first Secretary of the Union of artists of the USSR. Salakhov lives and works in Moscow and has a studio in Baku. His works are stored in major Russian museums (the State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, State Museum of Oriental art, State Russian Museum, Research Museum of the Russian Academy of Arts) Azerbaijan (Azerbaijan State Museum of Art named after R. Mustafayev), Ukraine, and other countries of the former USSR, as well as, galleries and private collections in other countries.


Зингер, Е. (1980) Таир Салахов. Ленинград: Аврора.
Карпова, Т. (2016) Таир Салахов: Солнце в зените. Москва: Государственная Третьяковская галерея.
Коляденко, А., Осмоловский, Ю. (ред.), (1986) Таир Салахов. Москва: Советский Художник.
Кравцова, М. (2013) АРТГИД [online] Таир Салахов Available at:
Manin, V. (2008) Tair Salakhov: his life and creative work. Baku: Caspian Shipyard Co.
Наджафов, М. (1981) Таир Салахов. Баку: Язычы.