Boris Savelev




Boris Savelev is one of the most important and well-known photographers working in Russia today. He first came to the attention of the art-world in the west with the publication of Secret City by Thames and Hudson in 1981. This established Boris Savelevs´s reputation as one of the most serious artists of a new generation of photographers emerging from the former USSR.Savelev’s extraordinary photographic work has earned him a place in major international collections worldwide, among them, the Corcoran Galley in Washington, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Staatsgallerie of Stuttgart, the Saarland Museum in Saarbrucken, Germany, our Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe and many other major institutions.
In 1986, at the start of Perestroyka (rebuilding), Thomas Neurath, the director of Thames and Hudson visited Moscow looking for ‘unofficial’ artists. He selected Boris Savelev and in 1988 the monograph Secret City was published. This was the first book published in the west of an unofficial photographer living in the Soviet Union. Up until 1988 all of the works that Boris Savelev had exhibited were black and white prints but he had been experimenting with colour photography since the early 1980’s. When producing Secret City , Thames and Hudson selected a group of these colour photographs which had been taken using Orwachrome film. The poor quality of the colour, and the additional problems of the lithographic reproduction failed to capture the complexity and density that the artist wanted. In 1987 he discovered Kodachrome film and all his colour work taken on film since that time has used Kodachrome. In the years following its publication most of Boris Savelev’s work has been an enquiry into colour photography. Since 1995 most of his images have been captured digitally.
After the initial disappointment with the reproductions in Secret City Boris started to look for alternative printing processes. He worked with C Type prints, but anxious about their fugitive nature and unhappy with the uniform surface of the paper he started looking into dye transfer prints and then pigment transfer prints. He experimented with many of the nineteenth century processes becoming a master of gum bichromate printing (both in black and white and colour), platinum printing and Kallitype. Cameraworks was his inspiration and pictorialist photographers like Steichen, Kertész, Lartigue and Demarchy interested him, both for the quality of the prints and for the integrity of the images.
In 1995 he was invited to Germany by Alexander Von Berswordt Walrabe to show with M Bochum. Alexander decided to produce an edition of 15 of Boris’s images and was persuaded to make them as pigment transfer prints. The process is time consuming and difficult but with the right materials it is capable of producing beautiful images of great complexity and with a slight surface relief. Permaprint was the only studio in Europe capable or realising this edition and once a visa was obtained Boris was sent to London. This was the start of a long relationship between Boris and myself in search of the perfect way to manifest his images. Permaprint morphed into Factum Arte and moved to Madrid. Factum Arte developed the interest in surface and started building and acquiring 3D scanners. Digital printers were bought and taken to bits. It became clear that we had to develop a flatbed printer. This has now been perfected. New surfaces were investigated using materials usually associated with painting. These were subjected to rigorous testing and analysis, modified and tested again. Boris began to prepare his files to be printed in layers, a task that requires a very different sensibility from normal photographic printing. (Text by Adam Lowe, Factum Arte

His works of elegant observational realism are preoccupied with light and form – a constructivist aesthetic Savelev credits to his methodical, scientific background. (The Guardian)


2013  Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
2011  CLAIRbyKahn, München, Germany
2009  Michael Hoppen Gallery, London
2008  Out of time, Moscow House of Photography
2007  31 Years, Guereta Gallery, Madrid
2006  La nostalgia di uno squardo perduto, Palazzo Magnani, Reggio-Emilia, Italy
2006  Colour & B/W, National Centre of Contemporary Photography, St. Petersburg, Russia
2004  Squares, Photosoyz gallery, Moscow
2004  City no time, Moscow museum of modern art
2003  Fine Art Gallery, University of Wuppertal, Germany
2003  Anahita Gallery, Santa-Fe, USA
2002  State Tretyakov Gallery, Government award, Moscow
2001  Anahita Gallery, Santa-Fe, USA
2001  Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia
2000  ifa Gallery, Berlin
2000  Kunsthaus, Dresden, Germany
2000  State Museum of Art, Cottbus, Germany
2000  School of Arts, Leer, Germany
1999  ifa Gallery, Bonn, Germany
1997  Russian Museum, St. Petersburg
1996  Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany
1995  mBochum Gallery, Bochum, Germany
1994  State museum Art Gallery, Kaliningrad
1993  Museum of Photo collections, Moscow
1992  Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
1981  Museums of photo Shauliay, Lithuania
1979  Museum of photo Kaunas, Lithuania
1978  Editions of magazine Soviet Photo, Moscow 


Corcoran Museum, Washington, USA
DG Bank Frankfurt, Germany
Museum of Fine Art, Santa-Fe, New Mexico, USA
Saarland Museum, Saarbrücken, Germany
Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Fine Art Museum, Cottbus, Germany
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
State “Russian Museum”, St .Petersburg
State Museum “Art Gallery”, Kaliningrad, Russia
MBochum Gallery, Bochum, Germany
Anahita Gallery, Santa-Fe, USA
Roy Boyd Gallery, Chicago, USA
Calcografie Nacional, Madrid, Spain
State Museum “House of Photography”, Moscow, Russia
Factum-Arte, Madrid, Spain
University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany
Arte Naturalesa Group, Madrid, Spain
State Center of Contemporary photography, St. Petersburg Russia
CLAIR, München, Germany
MOMA, San Francisco, USA


2010  Street Photography Now, Thames & Hudson, London UK
2009  Guardian, London UK
2009  Evening Standard, London UK
2009  British Journal of Photography, UK
2006  La nostalgia di uno squardo perduto, Skira, Milan
2005  de Fotograaf magazine/Portfolio Amsterdam
2003  Stationen des Augenblicks/ University of Wuppertal, Germany, Factum-arte, Madrid
2001  Madrid a torno el Sol/ Estampa Digital/portfolio Calcografia National Madrid
2000  Bauwelt, Berlin
2000  Brennpunkt mag, Berlin
2000  Photography Now, Berlin
2000  PhotoNews, Hamburg
1999  Momente der Dauer, Bonn
1999  Hot Shue, London
1995  Contemporary Photographers, SJ Press, London
1993  Über die grossen Städte, Berlin
1991  World & I, Washington. USA
1991  Changing Reality, Starwood pb, USA
1989  Aperture, NY
1988  Secret City, Boris Savelev, Thames & Hudson, London
1988  Revue fotografie a 88/portfolio
1986  Another Russia, Thames & Hudson, London
1986  Cheskoslovenska fotografie, Creative Camera/portfolio London
1985  Soviet Photo
1985  Foto DDR
1984  Russian painting in Ukrainian Museums Mistectvo, Kiev
1979  Soviet Photo
1978  Soviet Photo