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Andrei Tarkovsky

The Exhibition
Andrei Tarkovsky, Nostalghia (1983)

Today at Apple at Eye 

28 Sept - 30 Nov: 
Free creative sessions inspired by Tarkovsky's techniques. 

Video Walk: Capturing Cinematic Shots

Photo Walk: Capturing Light and Shadow

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With associative films rich in imagery, such as Andrei Rublev (1966), Solaris (1972), The Mirror (1974) and especially Stalker (1979), Andrei Tarkovsky (1932‒1986) made his name as a leading innovator of the language of cinema. This autumn, Eye presents an exhibition and film programme devoted to the celebrated filmmaker and mystic, focusing specifically on Tarkovsky’s quest for existential truth. In addition to immersing the visitor in Tarkovsky’s imagery, the exhibition includes unique documents — letters, photos and Polaroids — that have never previously been displayed in the Netherlands. Moreover, the accompanying film programme features digitally restored films.

The work of Andrei Tarkovsky weaves together dreams and memories, past and present. The painterly beauty of his images, his metaphysical reflections on humanity, and his lucid observations about cinema still inspire new generations of filmmakers and artists. Filmmakers such as Béla Tarr and Alexander Sokurov are considered his most direct descendants in the world of film.

Attention: this exhibition was on display from 14 September through 6 December 2019.

  • Studio Hans Wilschut

  • Studio Hans Wilschut

  • Studio Hans Wilschut

inner voice, personal visual idiom

Beyond the straitjacket of social-realist Soviet cinema, Tarkovsky developed a unique body of work in which he saw life as a spiritual quest for truth and self-knowledge. He called it the ‘inner voice of humankind’, which could only be heard within range of the magical and transcendental. He saw his films as ‘hieroglyphics of absolute truth’, acts of non-rational creation that, more than analytical science, were capable of revealing existential meaning.

For Tarkovsky, who died in 1986, film was the ideal medium for getting close to ‘real’ life. Of all the arts, film comes closest to the laws and patterns of human thought and life, he contended — and that made it the most truthful form of art. The style of Tarkovsky’s films was determined by extremely long takes, a very slowly moving camera, remarkable use of sound and music, and an alternation of coloured and monochrome sequences.

  • Solaris (1972)

  • Stalker (1979)

  • Andrej Roebljov / Andrei Rublev (1966)

exhibition concept

The exhibition has been conceived to get as close as possible to Tarkovsky and his work. That is why it will immerse visitors in the director’s imagery, intoxicating them, as it were, with numerous precisely chosen fragments from his films. This approach follows the ideas of the filmmaker regarding the ‘poetry of the image’ and the necessity of a ‘poetic logic’ and a ‘poetic montage’.

private memories

Especially unique is the collection of Polaroids and photographs – never previously shown in the Netherlands – made by Tarkovsky in a private capacity and while filming. The exhibition will also include material from Tarkovsky’s private archives, including letters, scripts and other documents that have never before been presented. These mementos of Tarkovsky’s personal and professional life have been made available by Tarkovsky’s son Andrei Andrejevich Tarkovsky.

  • Het offer / The Sacrifice (1986)

  • Nostalghia (1983)

biography Andrei Tarkovsky

Andrei Arsenyevich Tarkovsky was born on 4 April 1932 in Zavrazhye (close to Moscow). His father Arseny Tarkovsky was a prominent poet during the Soviet era and had previously worked as a translator of poems from Turkoman, Georgian, Armenian and Arabic. He left the family in 1937 when Andrei was still a young boy and volunteered for the Russian army in 1941. Andrei then moved with his sister to Moscow.

During the Second World War, the family fled Moscow and stayed with Andrei’s grandmother in Yuryevets. After the war, the family returned to the city, where, in November 1947, Andrei was admitted to hospital for a number of months with tuberculosis. The major and violent events of Tarkovsky’s youth resurface in a number of his films. 

After aborting his studies in Arabic and undertaking an expedition to Siberia, Tarkovsky enrolled in 1954 in the directing programme at the film academy in Moscow. In 1957 he married Irma Rausch, an actress who played in his films Ivan’s Childhood (1962) and Andrei Rublev (1966). During the Khrushchev era of the early 1950s, censorship was temporarily relaxed, allowing literature, films and music from Europe and the US to reach the Soviet Union. That gave Tarkovsky an opportunity to see films by authors who heavily influenced his later work, among them Akira Kurosawa, Luis Buñuel, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson and Kenji Mizoguchi.

Tarkovsky’s graduation work at the film academy in Moscow, The Steamroller and the Violin (1960), brought him instant success and renown. The film won the first prize at the New York Student Film Festival in 1960. Ivan’s Childhood, his first feature film, premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1962 and won the Golden Lion. The Soviet authorities were less impressed, which meant that the film received almost no attention and enjoyed very limited circulation. His second feature film, about the life of the fifteenth-century iconographer Andrei Rublev (1966), enjoyed a better reception in the West than in his own country. The film was among the prize-winners at Cannes Film Festival but had to be shortened a number of times before being released in the Soviet Union.

In 1970, Tarkovsky married his second wife, Larissa Kizilova, who had been production assistant on the film Andrei Rublev. Their son, Andrei Andrejevich, was born that same year. It wasn’t until The Mirror (1974), his highly autobiographical masterpiece which he had been working on since 1967 but which he could only film in 1973-1974, that he got into serious difficulties with the censors. The authorities placed the film in the ‘third category’, ensuring it had an extremely limited distribution and also that the maker was in danger of being accused of wasting public money.

Tarkovsky’s difficulties with the Soviet authorities foreshadowed his eventual defection to Europe. Before he definitively left the Soviet Union, Tarkovsky made Stalker (1979), which turned out to be an instant classic. In 1982, he relocated permanently to Italy.

Tarkovsky made another two films, Nostalghia (1983) and The Sacrifice (1986), both of which were very well received internationally and won various accolades. He died of cancer in a Paris hospital on 29 December 1986.

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film programme

The accompanying programme features Tarkovsky’s entire body of work, mostly in the form of digital restorations, including The Mirror (1974), Solaris (1972),  and his last film, The Sacrifice (1986). Also included are films by directors who inspired Tarkovsky (Sergei Parajanov, Robert Bresson) and by directors who Tarkovsky inspired (Lars von Trier, Alex Garland). Six of Tarkovsky’s films will be distributed nationally by Eye.

For those interested in Russia’s Soviet past, a six-part lecture series has been organized in collaboration with Russia expert Otto Boelen from Leiden University.

The art magazine Kunstschrift has published a special issue devoted to Tarkovsky.


Andrei Tarkovsky - The Exhibition is curated by Jaap Guldemond in collaboration with Marente Bloemheuvel. We especially thank Andrei A. Tarkovsky for his contribution to the exhibition. All documents and photographs in the exhibition are on loan from the collection of Andrei Tarkovsky Archive, Florence.

  • Director of exhibitions / curator: Jaap Guldemond  

  • Associate curator: Marente Bloemheuvel  

  • Project managers: Sanne Baar, Claartje Opdam, Judith Öfner, Giulia Di Pietro

  • Graphic design: Joseph Plateau, Amsterdam 

  • Technical production: Rembrandt Boswijk, Indyvideo, Utrecht; Martijn Bor 

  • Audiovisual equipment: BeamSystems, Amsterdam, Indyvideo, Utrecht

  • Installation: Syb Sybesma, Amsterdam  

  • Light: Studio Warmerdam, Amsterdam  


The exhibition was made possible by:

Full programme

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