Maxim Kantor, a Russian artist of international acclaim, well-known as a painter, sculptor, novelist, and essayist, has been awarded a Director’s Fellowship for spring 2015. While in residence at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study this semester, he is committed to painting many significant works as well as lecturing on the state of democracy and art in Russia. The son of noted Soviet art historian and philosopher Karl Kantor, Maxim established himself with paintings that did not fit with the socialist realism of the Soviet regime, making it difficult for him to start his career. However, in the 1980s, he was discovered by Western art critics and soon became influential in Russia. In 1983, Kantor organized the independent group of painters known as Krasny Dom (Red House), a group that sponsored exhibitions of the Moscow underground without official permission. A recurring feature of his work is his rejection of formalism in the visual arts, which he regards as a flight from moral responsibility. His art is deeply humanistic and frequently focuses on human suffering and the opportunity to overcome it through solidarity and love. His three great portfolios—Wasteland, Metropolis, and Vulcanus—offer a moral interpretation of the most momentous political changes of the twentieth century. Also a talented novelist and essayist, Kantor is the author of House in No-Man’s Land (1993) and Drawing Textbook, for which he won the Russian National Literature Award in 2006. His writing includes a collection of satirical plays entitled Party with Baboon (2007) and an essay collection called Democracy Slow Jaws (2008) that focuses on the evolution and historical ideals of democracy, imperialism, human rights, totalitarianism, “democratic war,” and the development of democratic society. In 2009, Kantor published the novel A Contre-Pied that confronts the discrediting of liberal doctrine. Recently, Kantor was an Oxford Artist in Residence and Visiting Fellow at St. Antony’s College and a Member of the Common Room at Wolfson College, University of Oxford. His work is featured in galleries and museums worldwide, from Moscow to London to Canberra as well as in the University of Notre Dame’s Snite Museum of Art and at the Vatican.
Originally published by Grant Osborn ’06, ’09M.F.A. at ndias.nd.edu on February 16, 2015.