On Saturday, February 23, artist, actor and publisher Vladimir “Tolsty” Kotliarov died in Paris, aged 75, a well-known representative of the left-wing wave of Soviet emigres, Kommersant [daily] reported.
Kotliarov was born in Moscow in 1937, and graduated from the Moscow State University’s historical faculty, earning a degree in art history.
He served in aviation, and in 1958 he barely survived after crashing a nuclear bomber aircraft. The artist, who adopted alias Tolsty (“Fat”), later recalled that experience when he used X-Ray plates in his work. In the Soviet Union he worked as a radio announcer, electronic engineer, and art renovator.
In 1979 Vladimir left the USSR and settled in Paris. At first, he lived in misery and earned a living washing dishes. However, being a radical avantgardist, Tolsty scorned bourgeois greed, and was not ashamed of his poverty. Quite the opposite, Kotliarov sought to underscore his rejection of monetary spirit, and in 1995 he invented a new type of art: he started to destroy money, cutting bills and covering the glued-together shreds with political and philosophical texts and slogans, turning them into works of art.
In Paris he created the Russian anarchist group Black Repartition of Land and Liberty (Rus: Cherny Peredel Zemli I Voli, combines names of two 19th century Narodnik secret societies - translator’s note) and developed its theoretical conception, proposing to augment the classic “Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood” triade with an extra one - “Mutual aid, Education, Honour”.
In France, after securing support from emigre rebels - Eduard Limonov, Konstantyn K. Kuzminsky, Alexei Khvostenko, Vagrich Bakhchanyan - Tolsty started publishing almanac magazine Muleta, and later the newspaper Vecherniy Zvon (Evening Bells), in which he often explicitly mocked the rest of emigre “elites”.
Tolsty was actively propagating anarchism in his publications. The entire 4th volume of Muleta [published in 1986] was dedicated to anarchism. Tolsty published two of his own articles in it - “Lessons of the Chinese Anarchism” and “Praising Makhnovtchina” (under pen name Katsapov), and fully reprinted Peter Kropotkin’s brochure “Anarchism”.
As an actor, he played in dozens of films, including Un Indien Dans la Ville (1994), La Reine Margot (1994), and Ronin (1998).
According to Tolsty’s comrades, he was distinguished by his unflinching lust for life, and he even referred to his art as “vivrisme” (from the French vivre, to live). In 2003, Kotliarov wrote that “The principles of vivrisme do not at all coincide with the principles of counter-cultural artists. The counter-cultural artists, which is to say the people who were so-called non-conformists here [in Russia] turned into most common conformists over there, in the West. In no way do I agree with the situation when an artist “mathematically” calculates what is marketable right now: okay, now black colour and devilry are in fashion, and he gets to produce black colour and devilry.”
From: http://lenta.ru/news/2013/02/25/kotlyarov/ (Lenta.ru website, February 25, 2013) . Translated by: - Szarapow.