Russian sculptor and graphic artist. During the years of Soviet oppression in the arts, when Socialist Realism was the officially sanctioned style, Neizvestny was one of the leading figures in Unofficial art. In the Second World War he joined the army at the age of sixteen and was badly wounded, an event that helped to shape his predilection for themes of life and death, as seen through the sufferings of the Russian people. Writhing forms and clenched fists are typical of his work. Following Stalin's death in 1953 there was a slight thaw in the political climate and in 1962 Neizvestny had a public confrontation with Stalin's successor Khruschev, who had denounced modern art (after Khruschev's fall from power, however, he began a friendly correspondence with Neizvestny, who designed a memorial for the former premier's grave). In 1976 Neizvestny was given permission to leave Russia; he moved to Switzerland and later settled in the USA.
J. Berger, Art and Revolution: Ernst Neizvestny and the Role of the Artist in the USSR (1969)