Savelev, Boris 1947-

views updated

SAVELEV, Boris 1947-

PERSONAL: Born December 30, 1947 (one source says 1948), in Chernowitz, Ukraine; married Elena Bazikovich, 1980; children: Vadim, Rodiou. Education: Attended Ukranian Aviation Institute.

ADDRESSES: Home—Prospect Mira M6-B Apt. 52, 129626, Moscow, Russia. Agent—Oliver Cescotti, Davidgasse, 79/3 A-1100 Vienna, Austria. E-mail— [email protected].

CAREER: Professional freelance photographer, beginning 1983. Exhibitions: Individual exhibitions include Museum of Photography, Shaulay, Lithuania, 1981; Tretakov Gallery, State Museum, Moscow, Russia, 1992; and State Museum, Kaliningrad-Königsberg, Russia. Group exhibitions include Museum of Modern Arts, Oxford, England, 1986; City Lights, Goldsmith's Gallery, London, England, 1987; Say Cheese, Comptuare de la Photographie, Paris, France, 1988; Photostroika, Burden Gallery, New York, NY, 1989; What's Photography, Maneze, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1990; Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, IL, 1991; Corcoran Museum, Washington, DC, 1991; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM, 1992; Rosa Esman Gallery, New York, NY, 1992; Über die grossen Städte, Berlin, Germany, 1993; and "Art of Contemporary Photography," Exhibition Centre, Moscow, Russia, 1994. Works included in collections at the Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe, NM; Tretakov Gallery, State Museum, Moscow; South-West Bank Collection, London, England; Museum of Photographic Collections, Moscow.

MEMBER: Novator Photographic Club, Moscow (president, 1978-80)


(Photographer, with others) Another Russia, Thames and Hudson (London, England), 1986.

Secret City: Photographs from the USSR, introduction by Ian Jeffrey, Thames and Hudson (London, England), 1988.

SIDELIGHTS: Ukrainian-born Boris Savlev trained to be an aviation engineer and worked in that field until, in 1982, he decided to quit and devote himself to photography, the medium he had become interested in as a teenager. His work was exhibited around the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and early 1980s in Moscovian and Lithuanian galleries, but the black- and-white photographs published in the book Another Russia in 1986—which was also an exhibit that toured Europe and North America—brought Savlev international recognition. He takes what he calls "photocartochi," or postcards—seemingly informal but truthful and probing snapshots of the streets of Moscow and Leningrad. Savlev once wrote, "My impressions of life are expressed in snapshots of towns. . . . I believe that one can get the best idea of the life of a person from his environment and the objects that surround him." He described his photographic intent as "'polyphonic,' for I pursue the possibilities combining unexpected events to produce numerous levels of meaning." An Aperture writer noted, "Savlev is a sophisticated virtuoso of the snapshot and its grasp of the specific spiritual moment."

During the first half of the 1980s, Savlev sent his color transparencies out of the Soviet Union to be processed in the West and did not exhibit the prints, but with the easing of ideological restrictions between the Soviet Union and the West in the second half of the decade, he began to show his work in various group exhibits in Europe and the United States. He collected a group of color images into a book, Secret City: Photographs from the USSR, which was published in 1988.

Secret City, composed primarily of shots of streets and buildings taken from Moscow, Leningrad, and other Soviet cities, seems to display a Western influence rather than exhibiting signs of the more-expected Soviet postrevolutionary tradition. Commented American Photographer reviewer Vicki Goldberg, "These are accomplished photos but they are chiefly extraordinary for being Russian . . . Few Americans were aware that such formalist, Western-inspired photography was being produced in Russia." Goldberg also reflected that the book is "to greater or lesser degrees, about the alienating effects of urban existence . . . the photographers make it their task to wrest art from an unprepossessing aspect of the environment."



Contemporary Photographers, 3rd editon, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.


American Photographer, March, 1989, Vicki Goldberg, "The New City Life: Nice Pictures, but You Wouldn't Want to . . .", pp. 18-19.

Aperture, fall, 1989, "Boris Savlev's 'Photocartochi,'" p. 18.

Modern Photography, February 1989, Mason Resnick, review of Secret City: Photographs from the USSR, p. 51.


Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (May 10, 2002).*