Lev Borodulin (1923 — 2018) is a widely recognized classic of Soviet photography and a legendary sports photographer. He was born in Moscow in 1923 In 1940 he entered the art department of the Moscow Polygraphic Institute, but a year later went to the front. He went through the entire war, was seriously wounded twice, and awarded the medals «For the Defense of Moscow» and «For the Capture of Berlin.»
After the war, Lev Borodulin graduated from university and began to engage in photography. His work was primarily influenced by the classics of early Soviet constructivist photography: Alexander Rodchenko, Boris Ignatovich and Arkady Shaikhet. Borodulin turned to the topic of sports since, at that time, it was the only area free from ideological prescriptions, which allowed the photographer to experiment.
From the late 1950s to 1972, Borodulin worked as a photojournalist in one of the country’s most popular magazines, «Ogonyok». During 15 years of work, he travelled almost the whole world, shooting the Olympic Games and other sports championships. His work stood out not only among Soviet photographers, but also internationally, so in 1964 the English Photography Year Book named Borodulin a «Star of World Photography», and in 1967 the author was recognized as «Photographer of the Year», according to the Japanese newspaper «Asahi». In 1972, during the Olympic Games in Munich, Lev Borodulin was awarded a gold Olympic medal for achievements in sports photography.
But even sports topics were not completely spared of censorship. In 1960, his photograph «A Jump from the Tower» became the cover of the «Ogonyok» magazines’ Olympics in Rome issue. The next day, the newspaper Pravda came out with a devastating letter from a «reader». Under this cover, on behalf of the people, the country’s chief ideologist Mikhail Suslov expressed outrage at the unexpected and provocative angle of photography for that time. The consequence of this was yet to come.
The renewed struggle against formalism in the same year forced the photographer to leave for Israel, where he continued to engage in photography. His works are in many private collections and were sold at international auctions by Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams and Swann.