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People’s Artist of the Russian Federation, Honored Art Worker of the RSFSR, who has designed more than 200 performances at home and abroad, passed away at the age of 82.

Sergei Barkhin was born in 1938 in Moscow into a family of architects Mikhail Barkhin and Elena Novikova. His paternal grandfather Grigory Barkhin was also an architect. At first, Sergei Mikhailovich followed in their footsteps, in 1956 he entered the Moscow Architectural Institute, where he studied with Mikhail Turkus, Gennady Movchan, Mikhail Parusnikov and Stepan Satunts. After graduating in 1962, he worked as an architect for only three years (he will return to the profession later, in the 2000s).

Then, in the 1960s, he found himself in book design and scenography. Later, critics would say that while working in the theater, Sergei Barkhin gravitates towards architecture. Kama Ginkas, with whom Barkhin worked a lot since the 1980s, will come up with a separate term for him: Barkhin is not engaged in scenography, but in creating the space for the performance.


He created the space of the first performances together with Mikhail Anikst, with whom he became friends during his years of study at Moscow Architectural Institute. In 1967–1968, the Sovremennik Theater hosted premieres of productions based on the plays The Ballad of the Sad Pub by Edward Alby, The People’s Will by Alexander Svobodin and The Art of Comedy by Eduardo de Filippo. He worked on his first independent performance at the Taganka Theater in 1968 – it was Tartuffe, staged by Yuri Lyubimov after Moliere’s play.

In the 1970s, Barkhin traveled a lot around the country. He worked in the theaters of Gorky (now – Nizhny Novgorod), Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg), Kuibyshev (Samara), Saratov, Perm, Ivanov, Kaunas, Vilnius and other cities. Returning to Moscow, he again began working under contracts in various theaters – in Sovremennik, the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater, and the Mossovet Theater. One of the most sensational performances, the scenography of which he was engaged in at that time, was The Tattooed Rose. The play based on the play of the same name by Tennessee Williams directed by Roman Viktyuk was first shown in 1982 at the Chekhov Moscow Art Theater.

At the same time, Sergei Barkhin’s long-term collaboration with the Moscow Theater for Young Spectators and directors Kama Ginkas and Henrietta Yanovskaya began. Among their joint productions – “Gedda Gubler” by Ginkas (1983), “Heart of a Dog” (1987), “Nightingale” (1988), “Good-bye America!” (1989), “Ivanov and others …” (1993) Yanovskaya. “Heart of a Dog” was a great success, the performance toured a lot, it was seen by spectators in different countries. Collaboration with both directors continued until recently. The last joint productions at the MTYuZ were “Elephant” by Henrietta Yanovskaya (2018) and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” directed by Kama Ginkas (2019).

In the 1980s, a period of work in the musical theater began. In 1988-1992, Barkhin served as the chief artist of the Moscow Academic Musical Theater named after K.S. Stanislavsky and V.I. Nemirovich-Danchenko. From 1995 to 2000 he worked as the artistic director – set designer of the Bolshoi Theater.

Sergey Barkhin has designed more than 200 productions in the former USSR, as well as abroad – in Germany, Finland, Sweden, Japan, Turkey, Czech Republic.


Having become an outlet in the 1960s, the book design work remained with him for many years. Throughout his life, in parallel with his work in the theater, Sergei Barkhin designed books, including for children.

In the 1980s, they began to offer him to make not only the design of the book, but also to illustrate it. This is how illustrations for “Treachery and Love” by Friedrich Schiller were born, similar to sketches for a play, and fairy-tale drawings for the collection of poems by Jacques Prevert “How to Draw a Bird”.

“Illustrations are like facial features of a person with whom you are close in spirit. His soul is literature, ”said Sergei Barkhin.

In 1994, together with his twin sister Tatyana and daughter Anna, Sergei Barkhin opened his own publishing house. The purpose of the Barkhin family business was the publication of monographs of relatives and friends. The first to be published was a book by my mother, architect Elena Novikova.

Animation and cinema

One of the books published by the Barkhin publishing house is a collection of drawings and works by Tonino Guerra. The famous Italian poet, writer, screenwriter, director and co-author Federico Fellini was a great friend of Sergei Barkhin.

The name of the Italian screenwriter is associated with the work of Sergei Barkhin in animation: he became a production designer for two animated films by Andrei Khrzhanovsky based on Guerra’s scripts – “The Lion with a Gray Beard” (1995), “Long Journey” (1997), and “Dog , General and Birds ”(2003).

In the 1970s, he designed several film performances: “Meetings and Parting” (1973, together with Sadir Ziyamukhamedov), “Foam” (1977) and Vassa Zheleznova (1978, together with Valentina Gordeeva).


Sergey Barkhin became the laureate of the Golden Mask theater award five times – in 1995, 2001, 2005, 2011 and 2013. He received the Theater Award “Crystal Turandot” in 1999, 2010, 2011 and 2016. In 2002, he became a laureate of the K.S. Stanislavsky.

In 1991, Sergei Barkhin was awarded the title of Honored Artist of the RSFSR, he became a People’s Artist of the Russian Federation in 1998. Twice – in 1993 and 2001 – he became a laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of theatrical art and design, respectively.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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