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 Dmitri Prigov

Born:   5 November 1940
Deceased:   16 July 2007

Russian poet, sculptor, artist, and performancer, often called the father of Russian conceptualism


Dmitri Aleksandrovich Prigov was born in Moscow on 5 November 1940. After finishing school he worked for two years at a factory, and then entered the Sculpture Department of Stroganov Art School, from where he was expelled for a year “for formalism”. In 1966-1974 he worked as an architect at the Chief Architecture Board of Moscow (according to other data, he was a building painting quality inspector. Dmitri started writing poetry in 1956, and was first published in the second half of the 1970s in emigrant and Slavic journals abroad. At the same time he worked as a sculptor and was friendly with many figures of the Moscow underground, including Lev Rubinstein and Francisco Infante. A few poems by Prigov were issued in the non-official almanac Catalogue in 1980.

In 1986 Prigov, who contrived a street action with handing poetic texts down to passers-by, was taken to a lunatic asylum for compulsory treatment, but later after protests of the community was released. From 1987 he started to be published and exhibited officially, and in 1991 he joined the Writers’ Union, whereas he was a member of the Artists’ Union from 1975.

First time Prigov took part in an exhibition in the USSR in 1987: his works were presented in the framework of the Moscow projects “Unofficial Art” and “Modern Art”. In 1988 his personal exhibition took place in the USA, in Struve’s Gallery in Chicago. Afterwards his works were many times exhibited in Russia and abroad.

Prigov’s first poetry collection, “Tears of the Heraldic Soul” was published in 1990 in the Publishing House “Mosocw Worker”. Later Prigov published his books of poetry “Fifty Drops of Blood”, “Appearance of the Poem After its Death”, as well as his prose works “Only My Japan”, and “Live in Moscow”. By November 2005 the number of Prigov’s poems, according to him, reached 36 thousand, while the author never aimed at publishing all of them.

In 1993 Prigov was awarded Pushkin Prize of the Toepfer Foundation (Germany) and in 2002 he won Boris Pasternak Prize.

Prigov also took part in several projects as a performer and a singer, including those at the Festival of Composer Vladimir Martynov, and played some episodic roles in films, in particular, in Aleksey German’s Khrustalyov, My Car! in 1998 and in Pavel Lungin’s Taxi Blues in 1990.

From 2002 Dmitri Prigov together with his son Andrei and his wife Natalia Mali took part in the Prigov Family Group of action art.

On 6 July 2007 Prigov was taken to a Moscow hospital and diagnosed with the extensive infarction. He underwent three operations, but they were of no help. On 16 July Dmitri Prigov passed away.


Tags: Dmitri Prigov Russian poets Russian artists   

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