Marlen Spindler

1931 — 2003

Marlen Pavlovich Shpindler — Soviet and Russian nonconformist artist of the second half of the 20th century who worked in a manner close to abstract expressionism. 

The artist got his revolutionary name (Marlen means Marx+Lenin) from his father who was a hatter.  Shpindler’s father wanted his son to become an artist and sent him to study at the art studio at Mosfilm (Moscow film studio). Later Shpindler attended classes at Alexander Gluskin’s studio, at Elia Belyutin’s studio and at the Sokolniki community center, where Alexander Kuprin, a former Bubnovy Valet member, taught.

Shpindler was strongly influenced by Michael Schwarzman, painter, graphic and monumental artist, and the founder of the hieratism art movement. Shpindler and Schwarzman met on a suburban train. Upon Schwarzman’s recommendation Shpindler received a job of decorator at the State Graphics Combine, an important Soviet graphic design studio. They both worked at the restoration of iconic features of the ancient Russian art. 

When he was young Shpindler invented his own initial sign, a letter S with three crossbars («three crosses»). There are several interpretations of this symbol: a symbol of happiness, a symbol of family, a symbol of Trinity. The sign became fateful: 3 times did the artist find himself in places of confinement (he spent almost 15 years collectively in concentration camps and in exile).

Shpindler painted on sackcloth and mixed his paints himself, grinding minerals with egg-yolf like the ancient icon painters. 

In 1962 he participated in the exhibition of the Belyutin studio artists in Bolshaya Kommunisticheskaya street alongside E.Neizvestny, J.Sobolev-Nolev, V.Yankilevsky. In 1974 he participated in a group exhibition in Bolshaya Gruzinskaya street, and in 1975 at VDNKh.

Since the 1980s he took part in multiple exhibitions at home and abroad: Graphic art by Moscow artists (Central House of Artists, Moscow, 1988), Treasures in the Mud (the Tampere Museum of Fine Arts, Finland, 1990), The Other Art (the State Tretyakov Gallery, 1990), Postmodernism and National Traditions (the State Tretyakov Gallery, 1993), The Nonconformists, the Second Wave of the Russian Avant-garde in 1955-1988. From the collection of Jacob and Kenda Bar-Ger (the State Tretyakov Gallery, 1996) etc. In the 1990s several personal exhibitions of the artist were held at the Center of Contemporary Art (1993,1994) and at the International federation of Artists (1994).

In 1996 Shpindler’s personal exhibition was held in the Tretyakov Gallery.

In 2000 the documentary Marlen Shpindler was filmed. 

The artist’s works are included in the collections of the Tretyakov gallery, the State Russian museum, as well as in private collections around the world.