mikhailov phallus art
Alexandre Rodrigues da Costa
3 min

Unstable Nudity: The Critical Eroticism In the Photographs Of Boris Mikhailov

3 min

Persecution And Fame

Boris Mikhailov was born in 1938 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. He is currently considered one of the most important artists to emerge from the former USSR. Despite being persecuted by the KGB for his ideas and having his work censored for years, he has become an internationally renowned photographer, with works sold for more than £100,000.

Yesterday's Sandwich by Boris Mikhailov

Fig.1.  Yesterday's Sandwich

Boris Mikhailov erotic photography


Boris Mikhailov masturbation


Complex Nature

Although Boris Mikhailov's work is raw and striking, it possesses a complex nature. His passion for photography was born from a deep fear of death, a feeling of not belonging, and a confused identity, as he is Jewish and Ukrainian, which marked him with the experiences of war and anti-Semitism in the USSR.

Boris Mikhailov photographer


Boris Mikhailov nude


Boris Mikhailov nude photography


Forbidden Nudity

Boris Mikhailov grew up during a time of change, with the end of the Stalin era and the slow exposure of the regime's brutality. Thus, he began to question reality and the official version of history, seeking other sources of information. This was reflected in his photos of everyday life and ordinary people, through techniques such as hand coloring and image superimposition.

The prohibition of nudity in the USSR, seen by Boris Mikhailov as an act of social control, inspired him to photograph the human body in his early works. This brought him into conflict with the KGB, leading to arrests, interrogations, and job loss. However, his passion for photography grew stronger, and he continued to take photos even under censorship.

Boris Mikhailov


Boris Mikhailov Ukrainian photographer


Boris Mikhailov Diaries


"Yesterday's Sandwich"

His series "Sandwich," created between 1960 and 1970, and whose photographs were compiled in the book "Yesterday's Sandwich," combines arbitrary images, using the language of cinema and the idea of "dissolving" between two shots, as he explains: "A film might take a year to make and be seen in a few minutes, while a photograph takes just a second and can have as much impact."

Boris Mikhailov Ukrainian artist


Boris Mikhailov photograph


In the extended Premium edition you can find much more about the impact of Mikhailov's "Sandwich" series, how he uses the language of film in his photography, the transgressive aspects presented in the book "Yesterday's Sandwich", Mikhailov's thematic and aesthetic approachthe subversive "Case History" series, dozens of additional images, and much more...!

Click HERE for the peak of seductive pictorialism in photography of Anne Brigman