Zurab Konstantines dze Tsereteli (Georgian: ზურაბ კონსტანტინეს ძე წერეთელი, Russian: Зураб Константинович Церетели; born January 4, 1934) is a Georgian-Russian painter, sculptor and architect known for large-scale and at times controversial monuments. Tsereteli has served as the President of the Russian Academy of Arts since 1997.
Tsereteli was born in Tbilisi and graduated from the Tbilisi State Academy of Arts, but soon relocated to Moscow. Among his works from the Soviet period was a resort for children in Sochi, completed in 1986. His wife was Princess Andronikashvili, from a noble Georgian family that claims patrilineal descent from Byzantine 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 acquainted with Eunice Kennedy Shriver through the Special Olympics. He designed and installed a monument (called Happiness to the Children of the World) on the campus of SUNY Brockport commemorating the 1979 Special Olympics and the International Year of the Child.
In March 2014 he signed a letter in support of the position of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin on Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.
- 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.
- Eminent Member of the Sergio Vieira de Mello Foundation.
- The statue of Peter the Great in downtown Moscow which, at 94 meters, is the eighth 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. In November 2008, it was voted the tenth ugliest building in the world by Virtual Tourist.
- An 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 there 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, announced 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. After this project was abandoned, the statue was moved to the municipality of Arecibo, where its assembly began during the spring of 2014. The statue was unveiled in Arebico on June 14, 2016. A smaller twin statue named "The Birth of a New Man" was given by Russia in 1993 and was assembled in Seville, where it is popularly known as "Huevo de Colón" (Columbus' Egg).
- 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 II 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.
- A 9-1/2 meter tall, 2 metric ton treble clef covered in mozaic gold that tops the cupola of the Moscow International House of Music. The sculpture rotates like a weathervane.
- 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.” 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.
- 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).
- Belinda Goldsmith (2008-11-14). "Travel Picks: 10 top ugly buildings and monument". Reuters. Retrieved 2008-11-17.
- Frank Graud Carrau (2008-08-15). "Estatua de Colón se muda a Mayagüez" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. Archived from the original on April 15, 2010. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
- "Comienzan a elevar famosa estatua de Cristóbal Colón" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 2014-04-02. Retrieved 2014-04-24.
- "Christopher Columbus statue welcomed in Puerto Rico after US cities rejected it". The Guardian. 2016-06-19. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
- Bunina, Maria, "View from within: A house for music", Vedomosti (February 4, 2009)
- Robert Ayers (July 31, 2006). "Famed Russian Sculptor Crafts Giant Teardrop in Memory of 9/11". ARTINFO. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
- ^ Pulse magazine, St. Petersburg, October 2006
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 (Russian: Сказки для идиотов, Skazki dlya idiotov). The alien's name is given as Yagkfi Yeyukuyeudsh (Russian: 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 Russian 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.
Honours and awards
- Hero of Socialist Labour, Order of Lenin and Gold medal "Hammer and Sickle" (11 November 1990) - for his great personal contribution to the development of Soviet art and productive social activities
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland;
- 1st class (26 July 2010) - for outstanding contribution to the development of fine arts and many years of creative activity
- 2nd class (4 January 2006) - for outstanding contribution to the development of fine arts
- 3rd class (29 April 1996) - for his great personal contribution to the development and successful completion of a complex of works on the Victory Monument, Poklonnaya Hill, Moscow
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (1994)
- People's Artist of the Russian Federation (4 January 1994) - for great achievements in the field of fine arts
- People's Artist of the USSR (1980)
- People's Artist of Georgia (1978)
- Russian Federation State Prize in Literature and Art (21 June 1996) - a memorial "Monument of Victory in Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945" on Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow
- Lenin Prize (1976) - for the space-decorations Children's Zone a resort town in Adler (1973)
- USSR State Prize
- 1970 - for the mosaic composition of Lenin memorial in Ulyanovsk (1969) and in the Palace of Trade Unions Tbilisi (1969–1970)
- 1982 - for participation in the creation of the hotel complex "Izmailovo" in Moscow (1980)
- Chevalier of the Legion of Honour (France, 2010)
- Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters (France, 2005)
- Medal "Astana" (Kazakhstan, 11 December 1998)
- Badge "For Services to Moscow" (Moscow, 30 December 2003) - for his great personal contribution to the development of fine art, many years of fruitful activity for the city and the Muscovites
- Order of Akhmad Kadyrov (Chechnya, 2005) - for his personal contribution to the commemoration of the first president of the Chechen Republic, the Hero of Russia Akhmad-Hadji Kadyrov, activities that promote peace, friendship and cooperation between peoples
- Medal "In Praise of Ossetia" (North Ossetia, 2010)