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Sotheby's London to auction the archive of Russian film genius Andrei Tarkovsky
The archive, pertaining to the years 1967-1986, sheds new light on the film-making techniques, private life and artistic struggle of the film director who famously fought to gain acceptance for his work in the USSR. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- On 28th November 2012, Sotheby’s London will present for auction a highly important archive of material relating to Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986), the most important Russian director of modern times since Eistenstein, whose surreal films marked a turning point in the history of world cinematography. The archive, pertaining to the years 1967-1986, sheds new light on the film-making techniques, private life and artistic struggle of the film director who famously fought to gain acceptance for his work in the USSR. The collection of several thousand working manuscripts, personal photographs, recordings and private documents - including a draft letter addressed to President Leonid Brezhnev arguing Tarkovsky’s case for working in the Soviet Union - is estimated at £80,000-100,000* and will be offered in Sotheby’s sale of Music, Continental and Russian Books and Manuscripts.

Dr Stephen Roe, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Books and Manuscripts commented: “The importance of this archive cannot be overstated. No significant material relating to Andrei Tarkovsky has ever before appeared at auction, and it is unlikely that such an archive will appear again. These little known and studied manuscripts, notes, letters, photographs and recordings of Tarkovsky, tell the private story of a director who helped revolutionise the history of cinema and was lauded by many of the world’s greatest film-makers. Poignantly, due to the perceived elitism of his work by the Russian Government, Tarkovsky’s work was banned and virtually unknown within the USSR. Tarkovsky died in exile at the early age of 54, after emigrating from the homeland which inspired, but ultimately rejected him.”

HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ARCHIVE
• Printed director’s books for Tarkovsky’s films Solaris, White, White Day (later retitled Mirror) and Stalker – these would have been printed in very small numbers, and are almost certainly the only surviving copies. These highly personal documents reveal the shot-by-shot structure of Tarkovsky’s films, involving camera positions and angles, and containing significant differences from the final versions.

• Manuscripts relating to Sculpting in Time – published by Tarkovsky in 1986 and widely regarded as the most important Russian theoretical work on art and cinema after Sergei Eisenstein’s great studies. Including drafts of several chapters, notepads, and a marked-up typescript of the final version.

• A draft letter to President Leonid Brezhnev laying out Tarkovsky’s argument for working in the Soviet Union and for his films, which had been banned in the region, to be released. After Tarkovsky’s films had been censored and prohibited, he left the USSR in 1982 to film Nostalghia in Italy. He never to return to Russia before his death in 1986. Below Tarkovsky discusses Brezhnev’s decision to ban showings of Andrei Rublyev, released in 1966:

“...For three and a half years the [my] film has been kept away from the screen...Andrei Rublyev was not and could not have been used for any kind of anti-Soviet propaganda...I do not have any opportunity to exercise my creative ideas. I was told that the issue is closely related to the fate of Andrei Rublyev...And still, if I do not have any work, I cannot make a living, though I have a wife and a child. I do not feel comfortable talking about that, but my situation has been unchanged for so long that I cannot keep silence any longer...”

• Four photograph albums - containing images of Tarkovsky from his last, exiled years – some of which have never been printed or published. Depicting the director alongside such luminaries as Krzysztof Zanussi, Otar Iosseliani, Jankowski, Rostropovich and Lubimov, and depicting him as a father, traveller (the Grand Canyon, Stonehenge, Italy) and surrounded by his friends. It is likely that some of the pictures have been taken by Tarkovsky himself in the same poetic and yet realistic style we see in his films. In the last photographs we see the ailing film director before his death from lung cancer in Paris aged 54.

• A collection of 32 audio-tapes and 13 minidisks of interviews with Tarkovsky –a number of which are unpublished.

12 autograph letters from Tarkovsky to Evgeniy Danilovich Surkov, the celebrated Russian film critic, discussing his work as a director.





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