Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.
– Andrei Tarkovsky
Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky (1932 -1986) was a Russian film director, screenwriter, and film theorist. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers in Russian and world cinema. His films explored spiritual and metaphysical themes, and are noted for their slow pacing and long takes, dreamlike visual imagery, and preoccupation with nature and memory. Tarkovsky studied film at Moscow’s VGIK under filmmaker Mikhail Romm, and subsequently directed his first five features in the Soviet Union: Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972), Mirror (1975), and Stalker (1979), a number of his films from this period are ranked among the best films ever made. After years of creative conflict with state film authorities, Tarkovsky left the country in 1979 and made his final two films abroad; Nostalghia (1983) and The Sacrifice (1986) were produced in Italy and Sweden respectively. In 1986, he also published a book about cinema and art entitled Sculpting in Time. He died of cancer later that year. Tarkovsky was the recipient of several awards at the Cannes Film Festival throughout his career (including the FIPRESCI prize, the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury, and the Grand Prix Spécial du Jury) and winner of the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival for his debut film Ivan’s Childhood. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Soviet Union’s prestigious Lenin Prize. Three of his films—Andrei Rublev, Mirror, and Stalker—featured in Sight & Sound’s 2012 poll of the 100 greatest films of all time.
Tarkovsky’s work is infused with spirituality, a sense of connectedness, of found beauty in an imperfect world. In 2006, Thames & Hudson published Instant Light, a book collecting a selection of color Polaroids the filmmaker took from 1979 to 1984 of his home, family, and friends in Russia and of places he visited in Italy.