Andrei Tarkovsky

Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84

Never try to convey your idea to the audience – it is a thankless and senseless task. Show them life, and they’ll find within themselves the means to assess and appreciate it.

– Andrei Tarkovsky

Russian filmmaker, Andrei Tarkovsky is often cited as one of the greatest cinematic artists of all time despite directing just seven films. His works are unconventional and often have spiritual or metaphysical themes. In Solaris, psychological dramas take place aboard a space station. Stalker, based on the novel, Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, follows an expedition to a mysterious, restricted site known as the Zone.

Tarkovsky’s intimate Polaroid photographs are less well known. These images, which he took between 1979 and 1984, during his last months in the Soviet Union and while filming in Italy and Sweden, offer rare glimpses into his personal life. The snapshot’s flaws and imperfections create an eerie, haunted feel, echoing the atmosphere so often seen in his films. He was fascinated with childhood, memories and dreams.

Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84
Polaroid © Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979-84

The camera offered Tarkovsky an antidote to the relentless passing of time. Using the medium of film, he could explore human existence and showed life to be magical, supernatural and incomprehensible.

These images are all the more poignant because in 1985, Tarkovsky was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. He died a year later on 29 December 1986 aged just 54.

Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.

– Andrei Tarkovsky

Recommended Reading

Instant Light


Showcases sixty of Tarkovsky’s beautiful Polaroids selected by his son and the renowned Italian photographer, Giovanni Chiaramonte. Highly recommended.

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