Alexey Titarenko

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Alexey Titarenko
Алексей Титаренко
Born Alexey Viktorovich Titarenko
(1962-11-25) November 25, 1962 (age 54)
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.

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


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

Influenced by the Russian avant-garde works of Kazimir Malevich, Alexander Rodchenko and the Dada art movement (from the 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 Photostroika, 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 the human condition of ordinary people living on its territory and the suffering they endured then and throughout the twentieth century. To illustrate links between the present and the past, he created metaphors by introducing long exposure and intentional camera movement into street photography.[7][8][9] Sources have noted that his most important innovation is the way he uses long exposure.[10][11][12][13] John Bailey, in his essay about Garry Winogrand and Titarenko, mentioned that "One of the obstacles was having an exposure of himself and people's reaction to him included in the image."[14][15][16]

Titarenko's best-known series from this period is City of Shadows (which is also a title of his autobiographical novel),[17] whose urban landscapes reiterate the Odessa Steps (also known as the Primorsky or Potemkin Stairs) scene from Sergei Eisenstein's film The Battleship Potemkin.[18] Inspired by the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and the novels of Fyodor Dostoevsky, Titarenko also translated Dostoevsky's vision of the Russian soul into sometimes poetic, sometimes dramatic pictures of his native city, Saint Petersburg.[19][20][21]

Along with Alexander Sokurov's 2002 film Russian Ark, the City of Shadows exhibition (which now included photographs from the mid and late 1990s inspired by Dostoevsky's novels) was a part of the program celebrating the 300th anniversary of St. Petersburg at the 2003 Clifford Symposium, in Middlebury, VT: What Became of Peter's Dream? Petersburg in History and Arts[22] 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's several minutes long exposure for some of his photographs.[23]

Titarenko's prints are created in the darkroom by photographer himself, sources called him a master of the darkroom technic.[24][25][26] Selective bleaching and toning (often done by brush) add depth to his palette of grays. Like Man Ray and Maurice Tabard, Titarenko uses solarisation, but unlike his predecessors, he exposes the print to light during the developing process mostly at the edges and in such a subtle way that it only lowers the contrast and creates a very particular kind of gray silver 'veil'. Nonetheless, in order to emphasize the dramatic aspects of the City of Shadows series, he sometimes uses the Sabattier effect called the Mackie line.[27]

Through interviews, lectures, books, curated exhibitions and two documentaries by French-German TV channel Arte (2004, 2005), Titarenko describes a particular vision of an artist and of art, close to that of Marcel Proust, linked to literature, poetry and classical music (especially that of Dmitri Shostakovich), placing himself very far apart from contemporary tendencies developing particularly in Moscow.[28]

A 2011 exhibition of his photographs from Cuba in the Getty Museum among few other shows, as a part of the Museum's project dedicated to the island: A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now, linked Titarenko's approach to the street photography in contemporary Havana to the Walker Evans one in 1933, by the subjects he photographed and aspects of his black and white printing.[29][30]

Titarenko became a naturalized United States citizen in 2011; and, as of 2014, lives and works in New York City as an artist, photographer, and printer.[31][32][33]


Publications by Titarenko[edit]

Publications with contributions by Titarenko[edit]


  • Alexey Titarenko: Saint Petersburg in Four Movements, Nailya Alexander Gallery, New York, February–April 2010[34]
  • A Revolutionary Project: Cuba from Walker Evans to Now, Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA. Titarenko contributed photographs from Cuba to this group exhibition on the island.[29]


Titarenko's work is held in the following permanent collections:

Documentary TV and film about Titarenko[edit]

  • "Le Journal de la Culture" series on Arte aired a 7 minute episode on Titarenko in 2004.[39]
  • Alexey Titarenko: Art et la Maniere (2005). 30 minutes. Directed by Rebecca Houzel. Produced by Image & Co. for Arte.[40]


  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, March 19, 2012
  5. ^ Meyers, William. "Shades of Reality. Underground Russian photography in 1970s–1980s" Wall Street Journal March 10–11, 2012
  6. ^ Sartorti, Rosalinde (1989). "No more heroic tractors: Subverting the legacy of socialist realism." Pp 8–17 of Richardson, Nan; Hagen Charles (1989). Photostroika: New Soviet Photography. Aperture 116. New York: Aperture Foundation. ISBN 0-89381-410-5. LCCN 58-30845
  7. ^ William Meyers "Two Tales of Two Cities" New York Sun March 2, 2006 , page 15
  8. ^ William Meyers. "A Master of Technique." Wall Street Journal, March 13–14, 2010
  9. ^ Gabriel Bauret "Fragments of the discourse on a photographic oeuvre" Alexey Titarenko photographs / Gabriel Bauret essay, Nailya Alexander, Washington D.C. 2003, pages 20, 26, 30, 34, 40, 42. ISBN 0-9743991-0-8
  10. ^ Pollack, Barbara. "Alexey Titarenko." Art News, April 2010, page 108
  11. ^ A.-D. Bouzet. "Saint Petersburg en Ombre et Blanc." Libération, Paris, July 21, 2002
  12. ^ The Elements of Photography. Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images. Oxford, Elsevier, 2008, page 200-205, ISBN 978-0-240-80942-7
  13. ^ Tim Smith "Black, White, Grey Titarenko's photos in new exhibit are eerily timeless and bleak" Baltimore Sun, June 1, 2012
  14. ^ Glueck, Grace "Northern Light." New York Times, New York, March 24, 2006
  15. ^ Howarth, Sophie and McLaren, Stephen. Street Photography Now. London, Thames & Hudson , 2010, page 199-201, ISBN 978-0-500-28907-5
  16. ^ Ollman, Leah. "Russian Photos Trace Images of Mortality and Memory." Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2001
  17. ^ "City of Shadows" in The City is a Novel / Alexey Titarenko, Damiani, 2015, pages 15-36, ISBN 978-88-6208-414-7
  18. ^ Protzman, Ferdinand. Landscape. Photographs of Time and Place. National Geographic, 2003, page 84-86, ISBN 0-7922-6166-6
  19. ^ Guerrin, Michel. "Alexey Titarenko, clair-obscure." Le Monde, Paris, February 22, 2003
  20. ^ Bouruet-Aubertot, Veronique "La Cite des Ombres." Beaux-Arts magazine, Paris, February 2003
  21. ^ Aidan Dunne. "Camera in a City of Shadows." Irish Times, Dublin, May 5, 2007
  22. ^ Diane E. Foulds. "Revisiting the world of the Romanovs." Boston Sunday Globe, Boston, November 2, 2003
  23. ^ 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
  24. ^ William Meyers. "A Master of Technique." Wall Street Journal, March 13–14, 2010
  25. ^ Bauret, Gabriel "La Ville est un Roman"; in Titarenko, The City is a Novel, Damiani, 2015, pages 10-11, ISBN 978-88-6208-414-7
  26. ^ Robertson, Rebecca "Bringing Shadows to Life. Alexey Titarenko" Art News, New York City, June 2014, page 54-57
  27. ^ Hugues, Sylvie "Alexey Titarenko, esthetique et documentaire." Response Photo magazine n.132, Paris, France, March 2003, page 80-89
  28. ^ Aspects de la photographie Russe (Aspects of Russian photography) Nice Musées, Nice, France, 2002, page 86, 130–133, 151, ISBN 2-913548-41-5
  29. ^ a b Johnson, Reed. "Cuba under the lens at the Getty Museum." Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2011
  30. ^ Brett, Abbott "Waiting to Awake"; in Titarenko, The City is a Novel, Damiani, 2015, pages 132-133, ISBN 978-88-6208-414-7
  31. ^ Robertson, Rebecca "Bringing Shadows to Life. Alexey Titarenko" Art News, New York City, June 2014, page 54-57
  32. ^ Burnstine, Susan "Connection American." Black&White photography magazine, United Kingdom, June 2010, page 20, 21
  33. ^ "Alexey Titarenko", The New Yorker magazine, May 11, 2015
  34. ^ "Alexey Titarenko: Saint Petersburg in Four Movements", Nailya Alexander Gallery, Accessed 3 September 2016
  35. ^ " Works from the collection", Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Accessed 3 November 2016
  36. ^ "Untitled (Crowd 2)", Chrysler Museum of Art via Squarespace, Accessed 3 September 2016
  37. ^ "Objects", Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Accessed 3 September 2016
  38. ^ " Works from the collection", The J. Paul Getty Museum, Accessed 8 September 2016
  39. ^ "Le Journal de la Culture" via youtube., Accessed 18 December 2016
  40. ^ "Art et la Maniere" via youtube., Accessed 14 December 2016

External links[edit]