Timur Novikov

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Timur Novikov in his St.Petersburg atelier, June 2000.

Timur Petrovich Novikov (September 24, 1958, Leningrad – May 23, 2002, St. Petersburg) was a Russian philosopher, graphic artist, designer, painter, art theorist and curator. He is considered one of the most influential figures in Nonconformist Art before and after the fall of the Iron Curtain in Russia.

As he grew up in the Soviet Union, Novikov experienced its cultural and political constraints. His artistic education began at the age of 7 at the House of Pioneers in Leningrad, and later at the Club of Young Fine Art Lovers at the Russian Museum in the same city.

In 1977 he became a member of the "Letopis" (Chronicles) art group; and in 1982 he founded "The New Artists" movement. During the 1980s Timur Novikov was employed at the Russian Museum and enjoyed access to its collection and archive, as well as close working relations with its curators and keepers. This connection lasted to when he started work as an artist. In 1990 and 1991 he studied as an intern at the "Institute of Plastic Arts" in Paris, France.

During the 1980s and 1990s Timur Novikov was a regular participant in the "Pop Mekhanika" show of experimental composer Sergey Kuryokhin and worked on its stage design. Several pop groups from the show worked with him to explore a new visual and stage design. In 1983 Novikov founded and led an experimental rock-group "Novye Kompozitory" (New Composers) and invented new musical instruments for it. He was also involved in a number of film projects as an actor and artist, and made a name as an innovative film designer. In 1989 Novikov shared the Nika Award for his contribution to the popular Russian film Assa.

The New Academy of Fine Arts, founded by Novikov in 1989, soon became a recognized meeting point for the Leningrad, Russian and international art scene and a symbol for the spirit of freedom and recomposition in the new Russia. The academy and artist community, named also after its address Pushkinskaya 10, was at first self-organized by artists. It later offered ateliers as well as regular courses for students, including scholarships. The academy, with Timur Novikov as one of its most prominent teachers, was sometimes referred to as an underground art project, but also cooperated with established art institutes, among them the Russian Museum and the Hermitage Museum.

The core conception of the academy was called Neo-Academism and comprised a specific teacher-student relationship as well as a certain historic and aesthetic perspective to painting and sculpture. Neoclassicism was another element that the academy referred to.

Timur Novikov also contributed to numerous Art exhibitions outside Russia. His style of painting combined a bold avant-garde attitude with refined classically-based conceptions of Neo-Academism. Furthermore, he contributed to contemporary art theory by writing books like "The New Russian Classicism" (1998), "Horizons" (2000), and "Intercontacts" (2000), published by the Russian Museum.

A lengthy illness led to blindness in the later part of Novikov's career. He continued working as a lecturer at the New Academy and led assistants to work on further graphical works. Timur Novikov died prematurely of pneumonia on May 23, 2002, in St. Petersburg. A posthumous personal exhibition of his works was held at the Russian Museum in 2002.

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