Pho­to: Vladimir Lagrange

A text has already been pub­lished with a selec­tion of tal­ent­ed Russ­ian pho­tog­ra­phers who are worth fol­low­ing right now. But with­out a foun­da­tion, there would be no roof: time to rewind and replen­ish knowl­edge from the oth­er side. Talk about six Sovi­et and Russ­ian pho­tog­ra­phers who are ashamed not to know!

Pho­to: Evge­ny Khaldei

1. Evgeny Khaldei (1917–1997)

Kilo­me­ters of film and thou­sands of days of con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing

Evge­ny (Efim when he was born) became inter­est­ed in pho­tog­ra­phy from ear­ly child­hood: he often went to the pho­to stu­dio, helped wash the neg­a­tives and tried to under­stand the cam­era. By the age of 13, he suc­ceed­ed and he man­u­al­ly (!) assem­bled his cam­era from two card­board box­es and the lens­es of his grand­moth­er’s glass­es. This was just the begin­ning.

Pho­to: Evge­ny Khaldei

In 1936, Khaldei was hired as a pho­to­jour­nal­ist for TASS. The young man at that time was only 19 years old. A few more years ahead, and he will become one of the main wit­ness­es and pho­tog­ra­phers of World War II, hav­ing spent 1418 days doc­u­ment­ing what is hap­pen­ing at the front. He released the shut­ter dur­ing the Bat­tle of Moscow in 1941, filmed the Pots­dam Con­fer­ence, and, most impor­tant­ly, filmed sol­diers, pris­on­ers, and ordi­nary peo­ple. They always came first, as he lat­er recalled.

One of the most famous pic­tures of Chaldea, which you have prob­a­bly seen, is the Ban­ner of Vic­to­ry over the Reich­stag.

Pho­to: Alexan­der Rod­chenko

2. Alexander Rodchenko (1891–1956)

The ide­ol­o­gist of con­struc­tivism changed the look at the pho­to

Rod­chenko not only out­stripped the devel­op­ment of pho­tog­ra­phy for decades to come, but, in fact, was a pio­neer of Sovi­et adver­tis­ing and a leg­is­la­tor of con­struc­tivism. He was the first to look at famil­iar things from a dif­fer­ent angle, choose unex­pect­ed angles, build a diag­o­nal com­po­si­tion and gen­er­al­ly exper­i­ment a lot.

As Osip Brik wrote, Rod­chenko strove to turn a famil­iar thing into a “seem­ing­ly nev­er-before-seen con­struc­tion”, to change a person’s habit­u­al view of the envi­ron­ment, to expand the pos­si­bil­i­ties of “see­ing things”.

Joint work of Rod­chenko and Mayakovsky

Pho­tog­ra­phy was not Alexan­der’s goal in itself, he was a mul­ti-instru­men­tal­ist: design, sculp­ture, graph­ics, col­lages — all this inter­est­ed him equal­ly. Togeth­er with Vladimir Mayakovsky, Rod­chenko com­bined graph­ics, pho­tog­ra­phy and poems in adver­tis­ing posters, cre­at­ing a new style. You have prob­a­bly seen most of these posters as icons of Sovi­et graph­ic design. Rod­chenko is con­sid­ered one of the ide­ol­o­gists of con­struc­tivism, a trend in art where form com­plete­ly merges with func­tion.

Pho­to: Geor­gy Pinkhasov

3. Georgy Pinkhasov (b.1953)

The only Russ­ian pho­tog­ra­ph­er in Mag­num press

Pinkhasov is known for his approach to using chiaroscuro and col­or as his main tools. His whole life is one way or anoth­er con­nect­ed with pho­tog­ra­phy: he stud­ied at VGIK, then worked as a pho­tog­ra­ph­er at Mos­film, then col­lab­o­rat­ed with Tarkovsky, fix­ing the process of the direc­tor’s work.

Pinkhasov’s pho­tog­ra­phy style began to take shape with pho­tographs of the Moscow cre­ative under­ground in the 1880s and ear­ly 1990s. He filmed night­clubs, infor­mals, city sketch­es and looked for heroes in ordi­nary peo­ple around. In fact, this is a clas­sic street pho­tog­ra­phy, in the spir­it of Carti­er-Bres­son, whom Pinkhasov con­sid­ers his teacher.

Pho­to: Geor­gy Pinkhasov

The char­ac­ter­is­tic hand­writ­ing of the author is the work on the con­trast, some­times sur­re­al scenes, bright col­ors or the play of chiaroscuro, which gives an ordi­nary scene a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent read­ing. The roots of this approach are guessed at the cin­e­mat­ic past, under­stand­ing how col­or works in a frame and how col­or can change the mood of this frame.

Pho­to: Sergey Mak­simishin

4. Sergey Maksimishin (b.1964)

Award-win­ning pho­to­jour­nal­ist with the most famous shots

Per­haps one of the most famous pho­to­jour­nal­ists of mod­ern Rus­sia. Win­ner of sev­er­al World Press Pho­to awards. Author of many wit­ty pho­tographs. Some of them you just could­n’t help but see! At least at the exhi­bi­tion, at least in numer­ous reposts in social net­works. As he him­self says: “I think that the most valu­able thing in my Russ­ian pho­tographs is such an atmos­phere of absur­di­ty, such a Gogol into­na­tion.”

Pho­to: Sergey Mak­simishin

The heroes of his pho­tographs speak for the author per­fect­ly. Sim­ple, com­plex, kind or not so, high-rank­ing or ordi­nary work­ers. Mak­simishin shot not only in Rus­sia, but it was Russ­ian pho­tographs that most often became known to a wide audi­ence. This is a doc­u­men­ta­tion of the Russ­ian per­son here and now, albeit in a sur­re­al­is­tic man­ner. The role of Mak­simishin can­not be denied, because he is already one of the most impor­tant pho­tog­ra­phers of our time. Today Sergey not only shoots, but also teach­es pho­to­jour­nal­ism to stu­dents, to a new gen­er­a­tion.

Pho­to: Igor Mukhin

5. Igor Mukhin (b.1961)

Doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er of chang­ing eras and infor­mal youth

His works are in the col­lec­tions of the Tretyakov Gallery, MOMA, Muse­um of fine arts, FNAC, Wien Muse­um and oth­er major muse­ums around the world. He him­self teach­es at the Moscow School of Pho­tog­ra­phy. Rod­chenko. And in his pho­tographs, in many ways, he man­aged to very sin­cere­ly doc­u­ment the change of eras in our coun­try.

Pho­to: Igor Mukhin

In the late 80s, Igor active­ly pho­tographed Sovi­et youth and rock musi­cians. Those very pic­tures of Tsoi, BG, Bash­lachev, Garkusha and oth­ers are his author­ship. This is a very hon­est doc­u­men­tary in the style of French cin­e­ma, the imprint of that time and the younger gen­er­a­tion of those years. Not just a rock par­ty: Mukhin has tak­en and con­tin­ues to take many oth­er pic­tures (he has par­tic­i­pat­ed in more than 150 exhi­bi­tions). How­ev­er, if it were pos­si­ble to des­ig­nate the main leit­mo­tif of ALL pho­tographs, then it would be some­thing in the spir­it of “Ordi­nary peo­ple, infor­mal peo­ple, youth, street shots … a study­ing look at every­thing around.”

Pho­to: Vladimir Lagrange

6. Vladimir Lagrange (b. 1939)

Almost Sovi­et Carti­er-Bres­son

Vladimir’s inter­est in pho­tog­ra­phy appeared large­ly due to his par­ents: his father worked as a cor­re­spon­dent for Prav­da, and his moth­er was a pho­to edi­tor. Lagrange dur­ing his life shot a lot for pub­li­ca­tions and trav­eled as a cor­re­spon­dent, but his vision was dif­fer­ent from the typ­i­cal jour­nal­is­tic one. The author pho­tographed ordi­nary peo­ple, peeped at the course of life, looked for a hero in every per­son, even a school­boy in solfeg­gio. He con­veyed the atmos­phere of the time. Lagrange even man­aged to doc­u­ment the life of ordi­nary cit­i­zens of France, hav­ing got there as part of a friend­ly del­e­ga­tion “USSR-France” in 1964. He is often called the main pho­tog­ra­ph­er of the Thaw.

Many lines from the biog­ra­phy per­fect­ly describe the nature of Lagrange’s hand­writ­ing: after TASS, he worked for the Sovi­et Union mag­a­zine for a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry. Many shots of that era were reject­ed by the edi­tor with the the­sis: “A Sovi­et per­son can­not look like that.” Ordi­nary peo­ple can. Res­i­dents of com­mu­nal apart­ments, stu­dents, oppo­si­tion-mind­ed youth in the 91st, ran­dom passers-by and chil­dren walk­ing by the foun­tain. It would be very loud to call him the Sovi­et Carti­er-Bres­son, but he is cer­tain­ly an impor­tant per­son for Sovi­et and Russ­ian pho­tog­ra­phy! A per­son who has doc­u­ment­ed many ordi­nary, not clichéd moments, from which the idea of ​​a par­tic­u­lar era is formed.

Pho­to: Vladimir Lagrange