Masterpieces of Soviet Photography reflects Borodulin’s long-lasting quest to collect and preserve images from a time when art was restricted to serve a Soviet socialist agenda. The photographs Borodulin collected over decades now constitute one of the largest collections of Soviet photography in the world and include prints by the greatest masters working in the medium such as Arkady Shaikhet, Yakov Khalip, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Boris Ignatovich and many others.
The exhibition covers a wide range subjects - Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin seated in a line at the 1945 Yalta (Crimea) Conference, a close-up portrait of astronaut Yuri Gagarin, and an austere 1930s morning exercise class where the instructor, incongruously dressed in a floaty floral dress and scarf, stands with arms outstretched looking down on the circular group of participants obediently following below.
Borodulin began collecting during the early days following the end of the Second World War when he was asked to create a photo chronicle of battles fought by his former regiment.
“I began with Yevgeny Khaldey — the author of the most known war pictures which depicted the Muscovites listening by radio to Molotov’s performance about the beginning of war; the traffic controller on Alexander parade-ground in Berlin; raising of a banner of the Victory over the Reichstag”. Lev Borodulin
What started as a hobby became a lifelong passion. The collection grew as Borodulin continued to make friends with and acquire the work of famous military photojournalists such as Max Alpert, famed for his pictures of the front line, and Dmitri Baltermants whose depictions of charging soldiers and village women grieving their dead on the battlefield have become iconic war images. Working at Ogonyok the Russian version of Life magazine and sharing a small darkroom with Dmitry Baltermants, during the 1950s gave Borodulin the opportunity to expand his collection further.
Borodulin emigrated from Russia to Israel in 1972 to live in Tel Aviv but frequently returned to his homeland to rescue prints offered to him by insolvent picture archives and by photographers’ families no longer able to care for such artistically and historically important work.
The collection was added to by his son, Aleksander Borodulin, also a prominent photographer, and has been exhibited worldwide including at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow and the Belarusian State Museum of the Great Patriotic War.