Maxim Kantor

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a Russian painter, writer, essayist and social commentator of an openly philosophical turn, and, as he once said, "one profession proceeds from the other". He shares his time between working in Moscow, London and Berlin. In 2015 began his work in the United States.


Maxim Kantor was born in Moscow on 22 December 1957 in the family of Russian philosopher Karl Kantor (ru).

Maxim's paternal grandfather Moses Kantor (ru) was born in Bessarabia (currently Moldova), studied in Germany, participated in the anarchist movement and self-exiled to Argentina in 1909. While in Argentina Moses Kantor authored a few plays (written in Spanish), published philosophical and literary essays, and participated in the socialist movement. In 1926 he returned to Soviet Russia with his new wife, founder of the Argentinian Communist Party Ida Bondareff. In the Soviet Union Moses Kantor headed the faculty of mineralogy and geology for the Timiryazev Academy of Agriculture.[1]

Maxim's father, Karl Kantor, was born in Argentina and arrived in Soviet Russia with his parents when he was small. He later served in the Soviet Army on the front lines of World War II. He was a professor of philosophy, author of books and essays, and editor of a magazine.[2]


Early works and influences[edit]

As a painter Maxim Kantor "didn't want to study under anybody and his father (the philosopher Karl Kantor) was all he needed". However, he was deeply influenced by Michelangelo, Mantegna, Goya, Bosch and Petrov Vodkin. In 1977, aged 20, he founded in Moscow the underground group Red House which organized a number of one-day shows, the most resounding of which took place in 1982 in the Moscow Institute of Philosophy. Soon thereafter he became known in many different countries and held exhibitions in a great number of important museums around the world.

Maxim Kantor never joined any artistic group, but rather kept to his own independent message. His personal style was never influenced by fashions or current streams. In the Soviet time he became a watchful observer of society and a sharp political critic. Kantor holds the same line up to now both in his country and in the West. Maxim Kantor could be most properly defined as "the Artist of the Existential Realism" since he proclaims that his philosophical roots are Sartre, Camus, Beckett and Hemingway. For years he has been developing the themes which moved him at the moment. Almost always those themes reflected socio-political situation in his Motherland or in the world. In turbulent times he created series of large paintings and graphic works which always dovetailed with his fiction works and public statements and essays.

Major exhibits[edit]



Exhibition tour of the European and United States museums, including: Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt; Northern Illinois University Art Gallery, Chicago; Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach, Florida; Crossman Gallery, Whitewater, Wisconsin; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Villa Vauban, Luxembourg.


European tour of the special exhibit of the atlas, monumental portfolio of etchings and prints named "Wasteland" in the following museums:

Recent works[edit]

Two works of Maxim Kantor's: "State" (2004) and "Cathedral in the Ocean" (2013).

Maxim Kantor has created two more monumental portfolio of etchings and prints with the following titles "Metroplis. Atlas" (2004) and "Vulcanus. Atlas" (2010).

Maxim Kantor produced "livres d'artiste" the following books of small edition: in 2013 "Henrich von Kleist. Die Hermannsschlaht" and in 2014 "The Ballades of Robin Hood".

In January 2015 he began working on "Faust".

January-February 2017 "Bibliotech" and "Tempest" for Bundestang in Berlin

January-March 2017 "Resurrection", "Saint Luke painting Virgin", "Rose - Saint George and the Dragon"

Exhibits in 2004-2008[edit]

Tour of the exhibition "New Empire" with paintings and graphic cycle "Metropolis.Atlas" in the following museums:

Exhibits in 2010-2012[edit]

Tour of the exhibitions of the graphic Cycle Vulcanus. Atlas with paintings: House of Architect, Moscow (one-day show); Galerie Nierendorf, Berlin [1]; Musée du Montparnasse, Paris; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg; Fondazione Stelline, Milan; Collegio Armeno Moorat Raphael, Venice.

Exhibitions in 2016-2017

2016 September–November "Maxim Kantor - new Bestiary" Centre Culturel de Rencontre, Abbaye de Neumunster, Luxembourg October 2016-January 2017 "Family versus Empire" National Museum in Gdansk, Poland 2017 February-May "Maxim Kantor - new Bestiary" Kunsthalle Emden, Lower Saxony, Germany 2017, 28 March, Inauguration of the paintings "Bibliotics" and "Tempest" in Hans-Dietrich Genscher Hall, Bundestag, Berlin 2017 April-May "De l'autre côté. Merry Symbolism" in the Church Saint Merry, Paris

Public collections[edit]

Besides a large number of private collections, Maxim Kantor's works are in the following public collections:

In the Russian Federation: State Tretiakov Gallery, Moscow; Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow; State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg; Novosibirsk State Art Museum; Togliatti State Art Gallery, Togliatti

In Germany: Städel Museum, Frankfurt; Museum Ludwig, Cologne; Sprengel Museum, Hannover; Neue Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart; Gemäldegalerie, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin; Kunsthalle Emden; Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig; Bochum Art Museum, Bochum; Stiftung Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt

In United Kingdom: British Museum, London; Ashmolean Museum, Oxford; Ulster Museum, Belfast

In United States: Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee; Snite Museum, Notre Dame University, Indiana; Bass Museum, Miami Beach, Florida

Also in South Australia State Gallery, Canberra; National Museum of Art and History, Luxembourg; Herring Museum of Art, Denmark; and others.

Maxim's work is also on display in the following churches: Brussels Cathedral and Église Saint-Merri, Paris


As a writer since 1993 Maxim Kantor has published several works of fiction, including the monumental novel Textbook of Drawing (2006). The Washington Post in its review said: "The book landed like the brick it is on the desks of Moscow's literary elite.".[3] Since then three collections of essays and two other novels were published. In 2013 Kantor published the novel Red Light which was in the short list of the Russian literary awards "National Bestseller" and "Big Book".[4] 7 January 2016 the French translation of "Red Light" is published by Louison Éditions with the title "FEU ROUGE" prefaced by Éric Naulleau. In February 2016 "Thistle - Philosophy of oil painting" "Чертополох / Философия живописи", Moscow AST. In May 2017 "Azart", Moscow AST.


In 2008 Kantor published the collection of plays An Evening with a Baboon, some of which have been staged in a number of theaters in Russia. In 2014 Kantor produced a puppet satire Robin Hood and Spiritual Buckles. Kantor was not only the author of the play, but also designed and built the puppets. He announced the founding of a permanent travelling puppet theatre.

Publicist, essayist[edit]

Maxim Kantor's articles and essays are permanently published on Le Monde Diplomatique (Paris) and on a number of Russian newspapers and magazines like Rossijskaja Gazeta, Novaya Gazeta, Expert, and Prime Russian Magazine. He writes regularly on the portal Open Democracy (London).

Collaboration with universities, Symposiums and Conferences[edit]

Maxim Kantor is a member of the Senior Council of the following Oxford colleges: St Antony's College, Wolfson College, and in 2013 he was appointed Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College. In 2015 he became a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, United States.[5]

In Oxford he initiated a number of international conferences the latest of which, "Vulcano: Art and Politics in the Period of Crisis of European Ideals", organized with the support of the Department of Politics and International Relations of the University of Oxford, took place in May 2012 dovetailing with Kantor's show in the Ashmolean Museum. Among other speakers Eric Hobsbawm, Marek Bartelik, Toni Negri, Vittorio Hosle, and Timothy Redcliff participated. In 2013 in Venice he organized conferences "Atlantis and Utopia" and in 2014 in Geneva "The Rape of Europe".

2016 "Democracy as a Challenge of Our Times” in European Solidarity Center in Gdansk, Poland

In 2013 Maxim Kantor founded the independent publishing house Robin Hood.

External links[edit]