He was born in Sverdlovsk in the family of the employee. After moving to Moscow in 1958 he graduated from the Art Institute named after V. I. Surikov, then "retrained" to produce – largely under the influence of Robert Falk and Vladimir Favorsky – resistant autonomy in relation to official socialist realist doctrine. Since 1959 he has worked as an artist book in the publishing house "Detgiz" (usually in collaboration with O. V. Vasilyev).
Original post-vanguard style Bulatov developed by the end of 1960-ies after the experience in different modernist manners. It reaches a strong socio-grotesque effects, combining standard naturalistic landscapes with large symbols from posters and transparent slogans. So, in the canvas of the Horizon (1971-1972, in different collections) red ribbon bar overlaps the deep blue sea, and the inscription "glory to the CPSU" in the eponymous film (1975, property of the artist) blots out the sky like a grid. Emphasizing the contrast of propaganda and reality, Bulatov's work approaches the Sots art, however, is not limited to satire, thinking in images on the borders of art and reality in General. Over time, satire is inferior in his paintings, the scene more epic moods (Russian 20th century, 1991, the Museum of Zimmerly at Reuterscom University, USA). Widely known in the West by the end of 1980-ies as a sort of "artist of perestroika". In 1989 Bulatov lives and works in new York, from 1992 – in Paris.