– Añada 2018 –

Tair Salakhov
Chicago (1964)

A solitary and fragile human figure surrounded by imposing towers rising skyward. That is how Tair Salakhov (1928-2021) saw Chicago in the 1960s. The work featured on one of the labels of Chateau La Grace Dieu des Prieurs, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru 2018, was probably created following the artist’s journey to America as part of a large-scale exchange program between the USSR and the USA, launched in 1958.

The son of a Soviet party official who was shot in 1938, throughout his creative life Salakhov was awarded all imaginable titles in the Soviet Union and beyond: academician of the USSR Academy of Arts, Hero of Socialist Labour, People’s Artist of the USSR, winner of State Prizes of the Azerbaijan SSR, the Russian Federation and the Soviet Union, Vice President of the International Federation of Artists (IFA), Honorary President of the UNESCO International Association of Plastic Arts, Honorary Member of the European Academy of Arts and professional art unions of Austria, Azerbaijan, East Germany, Spain, USA and France.

A remarkable master, one of the most famous artists of the «thaw» period in the USSR and a leader of the «austere style» trend, Salakhov left a colossal and varied artistic legacy: portraits of his contemporaries (including now canonical portraits of Dmitri Shostakovich, Kara Karayev, Rasul Gamzatov, Mstislav Rostropovich at Robert Rauschenberg), landscapes and still lifes, many of which are now in both museum and private collections around the world. His official portraits of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU Leonid Brezhnev and the head of Soviet Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev became true documents of the era.

The brutal laconic geometry and cold colours of the skyscrapers in «Chicago» (1964, oil on canvas, 120×100) evoke Art Deco imagery and artworks by Bauhaus and De Stijl members. Understanding of the work of contemporary foreign artists found its reflection not only in Salakhov’s works – thanks to his efforts, exhibitions of iconic contemporary artists such as Gunther Uecker, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean Tinguely, George Morandi, Gilbert and George and others took place in Moscow for the first time. In modern-day terms, he was an excellent lobbyist and art manager: according to the recollections of his contemporaries, it was Salakhov who, following the controversial Bulldozer Exhibition, managed to obtain from the USSR party leadership funding for the development of youth art, as well as the establishment of a youth section within the Union of Artists of the USSR (which, without exaggeration, saved many artists from criminal prosecution for parasitism).

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