Zurab Tsereteli

Zurab Konstantines dze Tsereteli ( _ka. ზურაბ წერეთელი, _ru. Зураб Константинович Церетели; born January 4, 1934 in Tbilisi) is a controversial Russian-Georgian painter, sculptor and architect who holds the office of President of the Russian Academy of Arts.


Tsereteli graduated from the Academy of Arts in Tbilisi but soon relocated to Moscow. Among his works from the Soviet period was a resort for children in Sochi, completed in 1986. His wife is Princess Andronikashvili, from a noble Georgian family that claims patrilineal descent from Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos.

Although much of his career was dogged by controversy, Tsereteli came to befriend Moscow's mayor Yuri Luzhkov, who secured some important commissions for him, including the reconstruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Manege Square ensemble and the War Memorial Complex on Poklonnaya Gora. Luzhkov also allowed him to occupy an old mansion in downtown Moscow, which now houses the Zurab Tsereteli Gallery and where his life-size statue of Vladimir Putin is on display. He is a friend of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.


* Professor and President of the Russian Academy of Arts.
* President of the Foundation for the Children's Park of Miracles (since 1988), hence the rumours of his involvement with the construction of Disneyland in Russia.
* Founder of the Moscow International Foundation for Support to UNESCO, he was appointed a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador on 30 March 1996.
* Since 2005 he has been a member of the Public Chamber of Russia.


* The statue of Peter the Great in downtown Moscow which, at 94 meters, is the sixth tallest statue in the world. Popular legend states that the Statue was initially of Christopher Columbus, but that after being rejected by the US Government, its head was replaced, and it was sold to the Russian government as a nautical statue of Peter the Great.

* An un-assembled statue known as "Birth of the New World" depicting Christopher Columbus. The statue was rejected by the US government when Tsereteli attempted to have it installed in the USA in 1992, in connection with the 500th anniversary of his voyage. The municipal government of Cataño, Puerto Rico, consented to having the statue built in their town, but later was unable to garner enough public support and funding. On August 15, 2008, the private contractor in charge of building a series of facilities for the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, annonced that the corporation had bought the structure and will build it in the municipality of Mayagüez, expecting to assemble it in time for the games. [cite web| url=http://www.primerahora.com/noticia/islaadentro/noticias/estatua_de_colon_se_muda_a_mayaguez/220018| title=Estatua de Colón se muda a Mayagüez| author=Frank Graud Carrau| publisher="Primera Hora"| language=Spanish| date=2008-08-15| accessdate=2008-08-17]

* The statue of St. George at the Moscow War Memorial and several versions of the same subject in Moscow and elsewhere. The foremost among these is a sculpture using sections of scrapped US Pershing and Soviet SS-20 nuclear missiles. The sculpture, entitled 'Good Defeats Evil' is on the grounds of the UN building in New York City. The sculpture is a 39 foot high, 40 ton monumental bronze statue of St George fighting the dragon of nuclear war. It was donated to the UN by the Soviet Union in 1990.
* His Tear of Grief (actually titled "To the Struggle Against World Terrorism") features a 40-foot teardrop suspended in the fissure of a 106-foot bronze rectangular tower. The monument includes the names of all the victims of the September 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania, as well as the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. At the ground breaking for the massive project, Vladimir Putin was present and called the sculpture “a gift from the people of Russia.” [citation | title=Famed Russian Sculptor Crafts Giant Teardrop in Memory of 9/11 | author= Robert Ayers| publisher=ARTINFO | year=2006 | date= July 31, 2006 | url=http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/19195/famed-russian-sculptor-crafts-giant-teardrop-in-memory-of-911/ | accessdate=2008-05-20 ] It was erected at the tip of the decommissioned Military Ocean Terminal, now rechristened The Peninsula at Bayonne Harbor, in Bayonne, New Jersey (after nearby Jersey City first accepted, then declined, the free monument) and was dedicated on September 11, 2006. The artist, Bill Clinton, Michael Chertoff, New Jersey Senator Jon Corzine, and a 9/11 widow all spoke at the dedication ceremony.
* On September 25, 2006, another Peter the Great statue by Tsereteli was installed on Vasilievsky Island, St. Petersburg, in front of the Pribaltiiskaya Hotel. The sculptor had originally wished it to be placed in front of the historic Manege next to St. Isaac's Cathedral, but this was turned down because of risk of damage to Quarenghi's building. [ibid.]
* Other offers of statuary by Tsereteli rejected by intended recipients in recent years include a statue of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill next to Livadia Palace in Yalta (Ukraine), Magellan (Uruguay), the Colossus of Rhodes (Greece), Franklin D. Roosevelt (New York) and Balzac (France). [Pulse magazine, St. Petersburg, October 2006]

Cultural references

As a reflection of his controversial reputation, a satiric short story describing Tsereteli as an alien installing a beacon through his various sculptures was published by Boris Akunin in his anthology "Fairy Tales for Idiots" ( _ru. Сказки для идиотов, "Skazki dlja idiotov"). The alien's name is given as Yagkfi Yeyukuyeudsh ( _ru. Ягкфи Еыукуеудш), a seemingly gibberish-like combination which actually spells out "Zurab Tsereteli" when typed on a Latin QWERTY keyboard by hitting the keys where the corresponding Cyrillic characters would be located.


Tsereteli's works, though often welcomed by the authorities, tend to become objects of strong public criticism. His sculptures are often blamed and mocked for being incongruously pompous and out of proportion.Fact|date=September 2008


* [http://portal.unesco.org/en/ev.php-URL_ID=9933&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html UNESCO participation]
* [http://english.mn.ru/english/issue.php?2005-3-3 Moscow news: Zurab Disney Or Walt Tsereteli?]
* [http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/news/artnetnews/artnetnews7-10-06.asp Artnet Magazine, July 10, 2006]

External links

* http://www.tsereteli.ru/ - the artists official site
* http://www.911monument.com/ - the official site"To the Struggle Against World Terrorism" monument by Zurab Tsereteli
* [http://www.coldwar.org/museum/art_work_by_surab_tsereteli.html Artwork by Zurab Tsereteli at The Cold War Museum]
* [http://www.blueofthesky.com/publicart/works/goodandevil.htm Good Defeats Evil] at the New York Public Art Curriculum

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