Lev Bruni

Born: 1894, Alexeyevka (Novgorod Province)
Died: 1948, Moscow

Painter, graphic artist, illustrator, decorator, teacher. Descended from Florentine humanist and historian Leonardo Bruni (c. 1370–1444), great-grandson of Fidelio Bruni and Pyotr Fyodorovich Sokolov, son of architect Alexander Bruni (1860–1911) and writer Anna Sokolova (1865–1948). Born in the village of Alexeyevka in Novgorod Province near the station of Malaya Vishera on the Moscow-St Petersburg Railway (1894). Studied under Andrei Titov and Vadim Schultz at the Princess Maria Tenisheva School of Art in St Petersburg (1904–09), Franz Roubaud, Nikolai Samokish and Jan Ciagli?skj at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1910–11, 1913–16) and Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian in Paris (1912–13). Published drawings in the Voice of Life, New Journal for All and Summits magazines (1913–15). Member of the World of Art (1915), Knave of Diamonds (1917), Makovets (1924), Four Arts (1925) and the Moscow branch of the Union of Artists (1932). Illustrated Nikolai Gumilyov’s Mik and Louis (1915), Velimir Khlebnikov’s Death’s Mistake (1915–16), Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote (1924), Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories (1929), Emma Vygodskaya’s A Prisoner of Algiers (1931), Vladimir Arseniev’s Dersu the Trapper (1932), Alfred de Musset’s La Confession d’un enfant du siècle (1932), Olga Perovskaya’s Kids and Cubs (1933), Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh (1934) and Nizami Ganjavi’s Ghazals (1940–47). Founded the “Apartment No. 5” group of young artists and writers who met at his studio in the Academy of Arts (1915–16). Painted portraits of Konstantin Balmont, Arthur Lourié and Osip Mandelstam (1915) and created counter-reliefs under the influence of Vladimir Tatlin (1915–16). Called up into a reserve battalion of the Finland Life Guards Regiment in Petrograd (1916). Helped to decorate the interior of the Café Pittoresque in Moscow (1917). Married Konstantin Balmont’s daughter Nina (1919) and lived in Miass, Omsk and Novonikolayevsk (1919–20). Returned to Petrograd (1920), where he taught at the Central School of Technical Drawing (1920–21). Moved to Moscow at the invitation of Vladimir Favorsky (1923) and taught at the VKhUTEMAS (1923–27, professor from 1924), VKhUTEIN (1927–30), Moscow Textile Institute (1930–33), Moscow Institute of Fine Art (1931–38) and Moscow Polygraphic Institute (1935–38). Spent summers at the Optina Hermitage in Kaluga Region (1924–35). Worked on such series as Children (1924), Samarkand (1934, 1936) and Sudak. Crimea (1936–40, 1946). Painted frescoes and murals for the Museum for the Protection of Maternity and Childhood (1932–33), Central House of Pioneers (1935–36), Soviet Pavilion at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris (1937), All-Union Exhibition of Agriculture (1938–39), Central Theatre of the Red Army (1939–40) and the Epiphany Cathedral at Yelokhovo in Moscow (1946). Struck off the electoral roll on the basis of a false accusation (1933–34). Founded and headed the studio of monumental painting at the Academy of Architecture of the USSR (1935–48). Evacuated to Almaty during the Second World War (1943), returned to Moscow (1944). Died in Moscow and buried at Danilovskoe Cemetery (1948). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1915). Contributed to the exhibitions of the World of Art (1915, 1918), Store (1916), Knave of Diamonds (1917), Freedom to Art (1917), To the Revolution (1917), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in Berlin (1922), Exhibition of Pictures of Petrograd Artists of All Directions (1923), Venice Biennale (1924), Makovets (1924, 1925), Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris (1925), United Art (1925), Four Arts (1925, 1926) and a retrospective at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (2000).

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