Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

In numerology, the study of numbers, “7” is the seeker, the thinker, and the searcher of Truth.  Director Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-86) made precisely seven feature films, and majority dealt with underlying, hidden truths. He was a mystic, and his medium was film.

It is rare when greatest works of art are gathered together under one roof.  It is most rare when there is a chance to glimpse into the soul of the artist.  The Museum of Arts and Design (New York) presents a full cinematic retrospective of Andrei Tarkovsky’s work this summer with its latest cinema series, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time, from July 10 through August 28, 2015.

“Few directors have had as large of an influence on cinema as Andrei Tarkovsky,” says Jake Yuzna, MAD’s Director of Public Programs. “Working under censorship and with little support from the Soviet Union, Tarkovsky fought fiercely for his conceptualization of cinema as a singular and vital art form. Reconsidering the role of films in an age of increasing technology, Tarkovsky saw cinema as not merely a tool for communicating information, but as ‘a moral barometer in a sea of competing narratives.’”

Director Steven Soderbergh called Tarkovsky “a poet” and “a genius.” Lars von Trier dedicated his Antichrist film to Tarkovsky and found his films were a religion-like experience. “I was hypnotized! To me [Andrei] is God!” 

Tarkovsky’s first feature, Ivan’s Childhood (1962), is one of the great movies about the horrors of the Second World War.


Ivan's Childhood, 1962, Andrei Tarkovsky, image courtesy of Kino Lorber


His second, Andrei Rublev (1966), a portrait of the medieval icon painter, may be his (and global) masterpiece.


Andrei Rublev, 1966, Andrei Tarkovsky, image courtesy of Kino Lorber


Solaris (1972), his first color movie, is a metaphysical sci-fi film that’s a match for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.


Solaris, 1972, Andrei Tarkovsky, image courtesy of Kino Lorber


Mirror (1975) is a complex, semi-autobiographical film on the turbulent Stalinist era that baffled and infuriated cultural arbiters. In Stalker (1979) he returned to sci-fi territory with a fable set in a horrendous wasteland; an eerie premonition of the impending Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986.

Stalker, 1976, Andrei Tarkovsky



His last two masterly allegories were made outside Russia, both starring Ingmar Bergman’s closest friend, Erland Josephson, as a troubled intellectual. Nostalgia (1983) is set in Tuscany; The Sacrifice (1986) was photographed by Sven Nykvist on Bergman’s Baltic island of Fårö. When The Sacrifice won the Grand Prix at Cannes it went unreported by the Soviet media.


Nostalhia, 1983, Andrei Tarkovsky, image courtesy of Kino Lorber


Concluding the MAD series Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time will be the documentary by Director Michal Leszczylowski, Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (1988), which “chronicles the iconic director before his untimely death.” Tarkovsky died of lung cancer, while in Paris in 1986 at the age of 54.

Pay your tribute to the most important Russian film director of the 20th century and one of the greatest of all time and (re)discover a “poetic and enigmatic body of work that expanded the possibilities of cinema as an art form and transformed a wide range of genres including science fiction, war stories, film essays and historical dramas.”


Editor’s note:

DEPESHA is an official media sponsor of Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City.



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