Alexey Titarenko

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Alexey Titarenko
Алексей Титаренко
Born Alexey Viktorovich Titarenko
(1962-11-25) November 25, 1962 (age 52)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Nationality Russia, United States
Known for Photography

Alexey Viktorovich Titarenko (Russian: Алексей Викторович Титаренко; born 1962 in Leningrad, USSR, now Saint Petersburg, Russia) is a Russian (and later, a naturalized American) photographer and artist.

Alexey Titarenko. Saint Petersburg, 1992, from "City of Shadows" series.


At age 15, he became the youngest member of the independent photo club Zerkalo [Mirror]. He went on to graduate from the Department of Cinematic and Photographic Art at Leningrad's Institute of Culture.[1][2]

Influenced by Russian avant-garde, works of Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko and Dada art movement (early 20th century), his series of collages, photomontages and images created by superposing several negatives, "Nomenklatura of Signs" (first exhibited only in 1988, in Leningrad) is a commentary on the Communist regime as an oppressive system that converts citizens into mere signs.[3][4][5] In 1989, "Nomenklatura of Signs" was included in Photostroyka, a major show of new Soviet photography that toured the US.[6]

During and after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991-1992 he produced several series of photographs about human condition of the ordinary people living on its territory and the suffering they have endured then and throughout the twentieth century. To illustrate links between the present and the past, he created powerful metaphors by introducing long exposure and intentional camera movement into street photography. Especially the way he uses long exposure many sources note as his most important innovation. John Bailey in his essay about Garry Winogrand and Alexey Titarenko mentioned that "One of the obstacles was having an exposure of himself and people's reaction to him included in the image." [7][8][9][10][11]

The most well-known series from this period is "City of Shadows," whose urban landscapes reiterate the Odessa Steps (also known as the Primorsky or Potemkin Stairs) scene from Sergei Eisenstein's film The Battleship Potemkin. [12] Inspired by the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky, he also translated Dostoevsky's vision of the Russian soul into sometimes poetic, sometimes dramatic pictures of his native city, Saint Petersburg.[13][14][15][16][17]

Along with Alexander Sokurov's 2002 film, Russian Ark, the "City of Shadows" exhibition (that now included photographs from the mid and late 1990's inspired by Dostoevsky's novels) was a part of the program celebrating the 300th anniversary of the Russian City of St.Petersburg in the United States: "What Became of Peter's Dream? Petersburg in History and Arts" (2003 Clifford Symposium, Middlebury, VT, USA)[18] The Russian Ark and the "City of Shadows" have one similarity: both are based on the experimental innovation: Alexander Sokurov using a single, very long - 96 minutes sequence shot and Titarenko several minutes long exposure for some of his photographs[19]

Titarenko's prints are subtly crafted in the darkroom. Bleaching and toning add depth to his nuanced palette of grays, rendering each print a unique interpretation of his experience and imbuing his work with a personal and emotive visual character. This particular beauty was emphasized by the exhibition of his prints from Havana series in J. Paul Getty Museum of Fine Arts (Los Angeles, May - October 2011).[20]

As it was for Man Ray or Maurice Tabard, solarisation is another Titarenko's creative tool. But unlike his predecessors, he exposes the print to light during the developing process mostly at the edges and in a such subtle way, that only lower the contrast and create a very particular kind of gray silver 'veil', an aerial 'atmosphere' that is so characteristic of his style. Nonetheless, in order to emphasize the dramatic aspects of "City of Shadows" series, he sometimes uses the Sabattier effect called the Mackie line.[21]

Through numerous interviews, lectures, books, curated exhibitions and two documentaries by French-German TV channel ARTE (2004, 2005); Titarenko is defending a particular vision of an artist and Art, close to the one of Marcel Proust, linked to the literature, poetry and classical music (especially the music of Dmitri Shostakovich), placing himself very far apart from today's tendencies that were developing particularly in Moscow.[22] He became a naturalized United States citizen in 2011 and according to the 2014 ARTnews magazine's article, he now lives and works in New York City as an artist, photographer, printer.[23][24][25]



  1. ^ "Dictionnaire mondial de la photographie" Paris, Éditions Larousse, 1994, page 629, ISBN 2-03-511335-0
  2. ^ William Meyers. "Alexey Titarenko's Venetian Style." The New York Sun, April 24, 2008
  3. ^ Schwendener, Martha "A City's artistic rebellion. Photographs and other works that pushed boundaries in late-cold-war Leningrad." New York Times, June 2, 2013
  4. ^ "Underground Russian photography 1970s-1980s" The New Yorker magazine, March 19, 2012
  5. ^ Meyers, William. "Shades of Reality. Underground Russian photography in 1970s-1980s" Wall Street Journal March 10–11, 2012
  6. ^ Richardson, Nan; Hagen Charles (1989). Photostroika: New Soviet Photography. Aperture 116. New York: Aperture Foundation. ISBN 0-89381-410-5. LCCN 58-30845
  7. ^ "The Elements of Photography. Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images." Oxford, Elsevier, 2008, page 200-205, ISBN 978-0-240-80942-7
  8. ^ Pollack, Barbara. "Alexey Titarenko." Art News, April 2010, page 108
  9. ^ William Meyers. "A Master of Technique." Wall Street Journal, March 13–14, 2010
  10. ^ Howarth, Sophie and McLaren, Stephen . "Street Photography Now." London, Thames & Hudson , 2010, page 199-201, ISBN 978-0-500-28907-5
  11. ^ Ollman, Leah. "Russian Photos Trace Images of Mortality and Memory." Los Angeles Times , August 3, 2001
  12. ^ Protzman, Ferdinand. "Landscape. Photographs of Time and Place." National Geographic, 2003, page 84-86, ISBN 0-7922-6166-6
  13. ^ Glueck, Grace "Northern Light." New York Times , New York, March 24, 2006
  14. ^ Guerrin, Michel. "Alexey Titarenko, clair-obscure." Le Monde, Paris, February 22, 2003
  15. ^ Bouruet-Aubertot, Veronique "La Cite des Ombres." Beau-Arts magazin , Paris, February 2003
  16. ^ A.-D. Bouzet. "Saint Petersburg en Ombre et Blanc." Libération, Paris, July 21, 2002
  17. ^ Aidan Dunne. "Camera in a City of Shadows." Irish Times, Dublin, May 05 , 2007
  18. ^ Diane E. Foulds. "Revisiting the world of the Romanovs." Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, November 2, 2003
  19. ^ Higgins, Jackie. "The World Atlas of Street Photography." Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2014, pages 226-229, ISBN 978-0-300-20716-3, LCCN 2014-940105
  20. ^ Johnson, Reed "Cuba under the lens at the Getty Museum" Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, May 27, 2011
  21. ^ Hugues, Sylvie "Alexey Titarenko, esthetique et documentaire." Response Photo magazine n.132, Paris, France, March 2003, page 80-89
  22. ^ "Aspects de la photographie Russe" (Aspects of Russian photography) Nice Musées, Nice, France, 2002, page 86, 130-133, 151, ISBN 2-913548-41-5
  23. ^ Robertson, Rebecca "Bringing Shadows to Life. Alexey Titarenko" Art News, New York City, June 2014, page 54-57
  24. ^ Burnstine, Susan "Connection American." Black&White photography magazine, United Kingdom, June 2010, page 20, 21
  25. ^ The New Yorker magazine, "Alexey Titarenko", May 11, 2015

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