Erarta Museum and Lev Lurie's Culture & History Club are proud to present: Day-D Festival and exhibition of documentary photography by Nina Alovert
Nina Alovert captures celebrities and public figures. But “stars” never pose to a stranger. The photographer must be social, reputed, intelligent, charismatic and encouraging. And it’s never enough to be just a friend of the talented. There is a fierce competition between photo artists. And only those who make masterpieces survive — Nina Alovert, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Whitman.
Alovert is a true Leningrad lady, with all the overtones of life in the “city of glory and grief”. Her father was a socialist-revolutionary, executed by shooting in 1937. Her mother was a folklorist. Her grandfather was a physicist who founded the State Optical Institute. She graduated from the Petrishulle and from the Department of Medieval History at The Leningrad State University, being a student and assistant of Professor Matvei Gukovsky.
Since the age of 11 she’s been a passionate ballet fan, attending every Kirov Theater premiere, going to rehearsals and hanging out with the dancers. As a result, the interest in theater outbalanced the interest in science. When over the years of “thaw” Nikolai Akimov managed to establish The Comedy Theatre, he invited young Nina Alovert to head the museum. This Russian Westernist, surrealist, Leningrad Magritte defined the aesthetics of Nina Alovert featuring distancing as if peeped beauty and significance of her models.
The Leningrad theatrical life of the 1950s and 1960s was the time of ballet renovation — performances by Leonid Jakobson and Yuri Grigorovich, debuts of Natalia Makarova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Alla Osipenko. These were Nina Alovert’s talk partners, friends, and models. She always kept hold on her camera when being in the circle of her brilliant friends.
In 1977 Alovert moved to the United States, settled in New York and entered another equally creative environment. This time among the representatives of the “third emigration” — Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ernst Neizvestny, Joseph Brodsky. She gradually accumulated the unique photo archive of the Russian diaspora, understanding the importance of the mission, feeling “not in exile, but in ambassade” (Zinaida Gippius).
Among the heroes of her portraits there was a newly arrived writer from Russia, Sergei Dovlatov. But Alovert instantly feels significance of people even not yet acknowledged by the public. Thus she took the first photographs of Mikhail Baryshnikov at his prom night at the Vaganova Ballet School, and Diana Vishneva in her first days in the Mariinsky Theatre.
In 1978 Dovlatov had only “Invisible Book” published and a dozen of readers. But Alovert immediately started to photograph him. The famous image of a sad, beautiful giant, quietly sitting in the corner, that later became classic for the innumerable admirers of Sergei Donatovich was her creation, just like many other iconic portraits of him.
Alovert is famous not only in the expat community. Gradually, she became one of the most prominent ballet photographers in the United States whose works are in demand of “Dance Magazine”, “Point”, “Ballet Review”. Her photos are included in the classic “Great Ballet Stars in historic photographs”, “A Dance Autobiography by Natalia Makarova”, “A Century of Russian Ballet 2000”, “Baryshnikov in Black and White”, and “Baryshnikov in Russia”.
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