Mikhail Shwartzman was a painter, monumentalist, graphic artist and designer. In 1950–1956 he studied at the Moscow Higher College of Industrial Art (formerly Stroganov College). In 1966–1985 he was in charge of a group of graphic designers at the Special Office of Art and Design of the Ministry of Light Industry.
M.M.Shwarzman was one of the most prominent Moscow Underground artists. He made a deep impact on the art of many of his fellow-artists. Shwartzman created an art system, which he called "ieratism" (from a Greek word meaning "priestly", "saintly"). He formulated the basic principles of his system as early as in the 1960s. As a proponent of non-objective art the painter used sign language in an effort to express what he saw as the world’s main driving force expressed in the metamorphoses of Nature. The artist called his works "ierats" to draw a distinction between his work and icons and paintings. An ierat represents an attempt to express the mystery of the Universe in signs. The artist interprets the secret laws of the Universe as representing a Providence-governed structure. Shwartzman original art system has no parallels in 20th century art. On the other hand, his art is a compact expression of many sacral cultures and the Russian avant-garde of the 1910s and 1920s.