Alexander Ivanov was born in Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, Russia,
in 1950. As a child he spent much of his spare time in the Hermitage
Museum nurturing his interest in classical and ancient Russian art.
At age sixteen, Ivanov began studies at the Leningrad Art & Graphic
School. During this time, his newfound love of 60s jazz and the
influences of Chagall inspired his work and created conflicts with
his teachers and Soviet officials.
During that period in Russia, Formalism and Individualism would not
be tolerated; Social Realism was the only accepted form of art. Unable
to live with the repression of his art, Ivanov left the art school in
1972, his 4th year, and decided to search for freedom by joining
a geological expedition to the north of Russia. As he had always had
a romance with the north, he settled near the city of Archangel. There
he explored the traditions and folk art of the region, adopting forms
of Russian ikons into his work and a traditional woodworking technique,
Although he exhibited in small showings throughout the early 1970s,
Ivanov's first one man show in 1977 opened and closed the same day,
the victim of official oppression. It was about this time in Leningrad
that artists were beginning to organize clandestine exhibitions in
private apartments. This drew Ivanov back to Leningrad, where he joined
a group of artists and exhibited his work in that city and Moscow.
Despite his activity as a painter and prinmaker, Ivanov was obliged to
work in a boiler room to support his family. Even so, he was able to
spend much of his time making musical instruments. Instruments and
players figure consistently in his artwork today.
In the later 1980s several Moscow firms published illustrations and
calendars of Ivanov's images. At the same time, his work was
discovered by the German government, who invited him to take part
in a Russia/German symposium. From there he was invited to exhibit
in Holland and England. His work was then discovered by galleries
in America and Japan and is now widely exhibited throughout the world.