Drawings of the Poet: Joseph Brodsky’s Unknown Legacy

Tue, Oct 20, 2020, 4:30 pm
Zoom Invite Only

Abstract: The title of this talk pays tribute to Abram Efros’s seminal study, Risunki poeta (Academia, 1933). However, in contrast to Pushkin's graphic art, Brodsky’s drawings are virtually unknown and still unpublished: for the first time his select sketches have been briefly exhibited in 2010, in St. Petersburg’s Russian National Library.

Brodsky never had lessons in drawing, but he certainly had a great gift for art. The Nobel Laureate’s drawings are distinguished by the sparseness of the malleable line, their sharp composition, and the ability to convey a mood. In one way or another, Brodsky tried his hand at several different techniques and indeed went through a number of periods in his drive to become an amateur artist.

Merging archival, visual and ethnographic materials collected during my fieldwork, I show how the existing corpus of the poet’s drawings, which I currently estimate at over a 500 unpublished graphic documents scattered over three major depositaries, can shed light on the political, aesthetic and artistic sensibilities of the entire generation that became responsible for dismantling the (im)moral foundation of the Soviet regime

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