A New Flight to Solaris at the Franco Zeffirelli Foundation @Az Museum

The exhibition New Flight to Solaris associatively connects outstanding paintings, drawings and sculpture by Soviet nonconformist artists from the AZ Museum and the private collection of Natalia Opaleva with the masterpiece of the great Russian film director Andrey Tarkovsky.


The New Flight to Solaris,  named after his film Solaris (1972), is the third in a trilogy of shows organised by the museum that bring together themes and images from Tarkovsky’s films Stalker (2016)and Andrey Rublev (2017) New Flight to Solaris is the highlight of the cultural exchange year between Italy and Russia — a year-long programme of cultural events in Italy. 

Anatoly Zverev, Suprematist Composition, 1958 @Az Museum

The AZ Museum is one of the youngest and most dynamically developing museums in Russia, founded by the collector and art patron Natalia Opaleva and curator Polina Lobachevskaya who work on its whole  publishing and exhibition programme. The mission of the museum is to bring to life the heritage of the unofficial Soviet artists active between 1960s —  1980s through original curatorial concepts, new technologies and an active dialogue with contemporary art.


The Franco Zeffirelli Foundation – International Centre for Performing Art in Florence offer both specialists and spectators a unique possibility to learn about the artistic heritage of Maestro Franco Zeffirelli, the star of world art. The museum, which covers the second floor of the Palazzo San Firenze, holds over 300 items related to the Maestro’s creative activity. Apart from the permanent exhibition, the San Firenze premises also offer exhibitions dedicated to the most outstanding artists of the world, as well as theater and cinema adaptations which Zeffirelli had worked on. The «New Flight to Solaris», inspired by the great Russian director Andrey Tarkovsky, will be the first international project of the Fondazione Zeffirelli ever since the museum was opened to the public on October 1, 2017.



«The choice of The Franco Zeffirelli Foundation as the partner of the AZ Museum for the «New Flight to Solaris» project was not accidental»,– commented the Founder of AZ Museum, Natalia Opaleva.

Franco Zeffirelli is the legend of world art, born in Florence. Andrey Tarkovsky, the world-famous Russian director, lived in Florence after leaving the Soviet Union. Italy also marks such momentous points of Tarkovsky’s life as receiving the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival for Ivan’s Childhood and the joint work with Tonino Guerra on the script and shooting of Nostalghia.

The conjunction of two such names at the San Firenze Palazzo is not just a reminder of past peaks, but the continuation of a cultural dialogue between Italy and Russia, and Russian and European culture. A new joint flight to the planet of Solaris will engage both science fiction and cinema lovers, as well as the connoisseurs of fine art who flock to Florence from all over the world.


The interior of the station “Solaris” in the film by Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972

In Andrei Tarkovsky’s film Solaris, the masterpieces of world art — earth of them selected by Tarkovsky for life on a different planet — are brought together. As a part of the exhibition project New Flight to Solaris, the AZ Museum makes its own selection of art works from the works of Tarkovsky’s contemporaries whose art would be congenial to his work. Taking this director’s idea as a defining guideline, Polina Lobachevskaya, the exhibition’s curator, places a futuristic installation within the baroque space of Palazzo San Firenze, equipped with 22 screens for video art based on unique photographic and cinematic materials linked to Andrei Tarkovsky’s creations. 


Dmitry Plavinsky, The Night Vision Over Jerusalem, 2005 @Az Museum

The new show recreates the space station in Tarkovsky’s Solaris as the setting for the exhibition featuring  34 nonconformist artists of the second half of the 20th century: Anatoly Zverev, Francisco Infante, Dmitry Plavinsky, Dmitry Krasnopevtsev, Vladimir Yankilevsky, Vladimir Yakovlev, Lidia Masterkova, Pyotr Belenok, Yulo Sooster, Vladimir Nemukhin, Ernst Neizvestny (32 paintings and two sculptures in total).


The 1960s through to the 1980s, the time when Tarkovsky was making his movies, was marked by resurgence of the Soviet  unofficial art. It was definitely a «Soviet Renaissance», a new blossoming of the avant-garde painting, drawing and sculpture. The 1960s artists were not standing as a united front brought together by any common manifesto; each of them worked in his or her own inimitable manner. However, they were Tarkovsky’s contemporaries, who shared an innovative approach to dealing with the problems of art  and had an unconquerable drive towards freedom, and most importantly — towards artistic freedom.