Timur Novikov, (1958- 2002) was the originator of the St Petersburg’s post-Soviet avant-garde and an iconic figure of the final decades of the 20th Century. Tall, charismatic and outstandingly handsome, Novikov achieved greatness through unorthodox channels, working with a succession of major cultural groupings in St Petersburg and, from the late 1980s, making important contacts with western artists. Novikov founded two art groups — the Novie Khudozhniki (New Artists’ Group) in 1982 and the Novaya Akademia (New Academy) in 1989, the simultaneously experimental and retrograde group, which dominated the artistic life of his native St. Petersburg. In 1991, he had his first solo exhibition at Phyllis Kind Gallery, New York. There, he became familiar with the East Village art scene and met leading vanguard artists, such as Robert Raushenberg and John Cage, who he referred to as teachers. He also befriended the late Keith Haring, his exact contemporary, and became a committed member of the international avant-garde.
By the late 1990s, Novikov had already formulated his contradictory cultural philosophy. He was both a defender of St Petersburg’s classical culture and a champion of modern advertising, which he believed was the last refuge of what was obviously beautiful. The founding image of the New Academy movement, Apollo Trampling on the Black Square (1990) encapsulates the conflict between the spiritual essence of art (the god Apollo) and the quintessence of the avant-garde (Kazimir Malevich’s canonical 1915 painting, Black Square). In 1997, Novikov lost his sight but continued developed his artistic theories and created new art work for the last seven years of his life.
Timur Novikov has exhibited internationally at major exhibitions and institutions, of which include the Tate Liverpool (1989), Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1993), Kunsthalle, Dusseldorf (1993), World Financial Centre in New York (1997), State Russian Museum, St Petersburg (1998), The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2009), Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg, The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg (2014).
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Schwules Museum, Berlin; The Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, Victoria and Albert Museum, London; The F.R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; and the Zimmerly Museum, Rutgers University.