White Space Gallery in collaboration with The German Embassy in London, and The Timur Novikov Foundation, presents the exhibition of one of Timur Novikov’s major works, dedicated to King Ludwig II of Bavaria.
The King Ludwig II of Bavaria (1995) series juxtapose portraits of King Ludwig II, Richard Wagner, and Piotr Tchaikovksy on rich ornamental gift wrapping paper. His iconic tapestries, such as The Swan (1994), and The King Ludwig II (2002)(one of his final works, made when he was blind) present a series of collages, the contemporary art medium of which Novikov was a powerful devotee.
Timur Novikov, who died in 2002, aged 44, 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 city.
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 defender of St Petersburg’s classical culture and 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’, encapsulates the conflict between the spiritual essence of art (the god Apollo) and the quintessence of the avant-garde (Kazimir Malevich’s painting, ‘Black Square’).
In 1997, Novikov lost his sight. For the last seven years of his life, he developed his artistic theories and created new art works.
Timur spent many years collecting the information on reclusive king and patron of the arts. In 1998 he published an essay King Ludwig II of Bavaria and Swan Lake, which contains interesting information on the life and work of Richard Wagner, Piotr Tchaikovsky, and the king himself – a knight and discerner of beauty, the last mystical monarch, whose tragic death was the final chapter in a remarkable period of European culture.
Our flight above the swan lakes
Refills the chalice with the communion of beauty,
Mixing love with Wagner’s Music.
The lines of the poem by Paul Verlain, dedicated to Ludwig II, can also be dedicated to the late Timur Novikov.
Timur Novikov (1958-2002) exhibited worldwide. His solo shows include the Tate Liverpool (1989), Stedelijk, 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). His works are in the collections of Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Schwules Museum (Berlin), The Museum of Modern Art (Vienna) The F.R. Weisman Art Museum (USA), Zimmerly Museum (USA), Victoria and Albert Museum (London) and many others.