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 Mikhail Shemiakin

Born:   May 5, 1943

Sculptor, artist


Sculptor and artist Mihail Chemiakin (Shemiakin) is known all over the world today thanks to his hard-working and talented nature rather than to a scar on his face. However, his scar might be a sort of an original token of his art: works by Mihail Shemyakin display deliberate imperfections of their characters, whether you take a wide range of his whimsical long-nosed and humped monsters of homunculi or the sculpture of Peter the Great with a disproportionately small head.

Misha Shemyakin was born in Moscow on May 4, 1943. He grew up in the Eastern Germany where his father served as a commandant, and his mother was an actress. Upon returning to his homeland in 1957 Mihail Shemyakin entered the Repin Art School in Leningrad (St. Petersburg) attached to the Academy of Arts.

Vladimir Vysotsky &  Mihail Chemiakin From 1957 to 1971 he lived in Leningrad. Mihail studied at the Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in Leningrad, but was expelled for reasons of ideology. However he went on studying by himself by copying old masters in the Hermitage. In Soviet Russia he participated in six exhibitions all of which were cut short on the second or third day of display. In 1971 he was driven away from the USSR.

For ten years Mihail Shemyakin lived and worked in Paris – that’s where he attained fame. It was in Paris also where dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov acquainted Shemyakin and Vladimir Vysotsky who later became close friends. During that Paris period, in the 1970s, Shemyakin made a great many recordings of Vysotsky singing in his art studio. The famous Vysotsky’s albums from the collection of Shemyakin are re-released till date.

Children as the Victims of Vices of Adults (Moscow) The art of Mihail Shemyakin started returning to Russia in 1989, with his first personal exhibitions in Moscow and Leningrad. His most famous works in Russia today are monuments in St. Petersburg: the double-faced Sphinxes on Robespierre Embankment, the monument to Architects-Founders of Petersburg (at the graveyard of Sampsonievsky Monastery), and the monument to Peter the First by the Peter and Paul Cathedral. In Moscow everyone knows his sculptural composition ‘Children as the Victims of Vices of Adults’ on Bolotnaya square in the city centre.

Monument to Peter the First in Petersburg Monuments and sculptural compositions by Mihail Shemyakin have found place in New York (‘Cybele: the Goddess of Fertility’), Paris (‘The Carnival of St. Petersburg’), and Venice (‘In memory of the 200th anniversary of the death of Casanova’). He is also the author of the gravestone to actor Saveli Kramarov, a Russian emigrant in San Francisco and the monument to Manevich in Petersburg graveyard.

The Gardener Besides, Shemyakin created a memorial to professor Harold Yuker (‘Dialogue between Plato and Socrates’) which is located in the university campus in Hempstead, New York, the USA, and the monument to Peter the First in London.

Mihail Shemyakin is working with a wide range of techniques. His creations vary in themes from theatrical works to metaphysical research.

Besiegers of the City He has created the series ‘Carnival of Saint Petersburg’, ‘Still-Life’, ‘Metaphysical Head’, ‘Angels of Death’, and has recently been working on the sculptural project ‘The Cocoons’, and the sculptural composition ‘Kings and Executioners’ to consist of 50 figures. Besides, the sculptor is preparing a monument to Russian seamen for San Francisco.

Mihail Shemyakin is a participant of over 500 exhibitions and the honored doctor of five universities. His works are displayed in museums and private collections in many countries of the world, including Metropolitan Museum (New York), the State Russian Museum (St. Petersburg), and the Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow).

Since 1995 Mihail Shemyakin has been working in cooperation with ‘The Gallery of Alla Bulyanskaya’. In the 2000s apart from painting and sculpture activities in Russia, Shemyakin conducted his own TV programs and staged a new version of Tchaikovsky’s ballet Nutcracker, for which he designed the costumes, masks and decorations and even worked on the libretto.

Mikhail Shemyakin Mihail Shemyakin is a real workaholic: he is working days and nights, and on several projects at the same time. He is completely immersed in work and if it were possible Shemyakin would have probably abandon sleeping.

Nowadays the artist is living and working in New York and visits Russia for some creative needs. He has recently given up smoking.

The official site of Mihail Shemyakin:


Mikhail Manykin and Vera Ivanova

Tags: Mikhail Shemyakin Russian painters Russian art   

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