Famous artist Ernst Neizvestny dies: Author of memorial to USSR political terror victims dies in New York

16:21 Aug. 10, 2016

Author of memorial to USSR political terror victims dies in New York

Ernst Neizvestny (Getty Images)

Ernst Neizvestny's artwork was criticized by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1962 

World-known Russian sculptor Ernst Neizvestny died in in New York.

He died on early August 9 (local time), at the hospital Stony Brook, where he was hospitalized after experiencing severe stomach pain.

According to his friends, the 91-year-old artist died suddenly - two days ago Neizvestny was relatively healthy, RFE/RL reports.

Read also Ukrainian artist's works displayed in Japan to remember Chornobyl and Fukushima accidents

One of the most important artists of the Soviet era, Ernst Neizvestny dared to stand up to the then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev after he launched a public attack on the artist's work in 1962.

In 1976 Ernst Neizvestny emigrated from the Soviet Union and became an American citizen.

In 1996 he finished his 15-metre monumental sculpture The Mask of Sorrow, dedicated to the victims of Soviet-era political repression. The sculpture is installed in Magadan (a place in Russia's Far East accommodating numerous USSR political penal camps). 


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev lays flowers as he visits the Mask of Sorrow monument by Ernst Neizvestny to victims of Josef Stalin's regime repressions in Magadan - about 6,000 kilometers (3,700 miles) east of Moscow on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. (AP Photo)

Ukraine also boasts some works by the artist. His bronze sculpture The Golden Child adorns the entrance to Odesa's Sea Port. Since 1966, his sculpture Prometheus is exhibited in the children camp Artek, in Russia's annexed Crimea


The Golden Child, by Ernst Neizvestny near the seaport of Odesa, Ukraine (Getty Images) 

Ernst Neizvestny was a Russian-American sculptor, painter, graphic artist, and art philosopher. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1976 and lived and worked in New York City. His last name in Russian literally means "unknown". American playwright Arthur Miller once described Neizvestny as an "artist of the East" who is regarded by Russians as an "expression of the country, of its soul, language, and spirit" and as a "prophet of the future" who represents the "philosophical conscience of his country."

During the 1980s, Neizvestny was a visiting lecturer at the University of Oregon and at UC Berkeley. He also worked with Magna Gallery in San Francisco, and had a number of shows which were well-attended in the mid to late 1980s. This gallery also asked him to create his suite of five original graphics, "Man through the Wall," to mark the end of Communism at the end of the 1980s. Magna Gallery was closed at the end of 1992. (Source - Wikipedia) 


Although Nikita Khrushchev famously derided Neizvestny's works as "degenerate" art at the Moscow Manege exhibition of 1962 ("Why do you disfigure the faces of Soviet people?"), the sculptor was later approached by Khruschev's family to design a tomb for the former Soviet leader at the Novodevichy Cemetery. (AP Photo)

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