Nathan Altman

Born: 1889, Vinnytsia (Ukraine)
Died: 1970, Leningrad

Painter, graphic artist, sculptor, illustrator, theatrical designer, art theorist, teacher. Born to a family of Jewish merchants in the Pale of Settlement (1889). Studied under Kyriakos Kostandi and Gennady Ladyzhensky at the Odessa School of Art (1901–07) and under Vladimir Baranov-Rossiné at the Académie Marie Vassilieff in Paris (1910–11). Moved to St Petersburg (1912), where he painted Cubist pictures and contributed satirical drawings to the Ripple magazine (1912–17). Taught at Mikhail Bernstein’s studio (1915–16) and the State Free Art Studios in Petrograd (1918–20). Founding member of the Jewish Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (1915) and the Kultur Lige (1918). Worked for IZO Narkompros (1918–21). Installed an architectural sculpture on Palace Square on the first anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution (1918), decorated works of porcelain for the State Porcelain Factory (1919) and drew portraits and sculpted a bust of Vladimir Lenin (1920). Worked at the Institute of Artistic Culture in Petrograd (1923) and published a volume of Jewish graphic art in Berlin (1923). Designed the sets and costumes for Alexei Granovsky’s production of Vladimir Mayakovsky’s play Mystery-Bouffe at the First Theatre of the RSFSR (1921) and Yiddish productions at the Habima Theatre in Moscow (1922–28). Lived and worked in Paris (1928–35), where he was a member of L’Araignée (1928), Union Jeune-Europe (1932) and Association des écrivains et artistes révolutionnaires (1934–35). Returned to the Soviet Union (1935) and settled in Leningrad (1936), where he worked for the theatre, illustrated children’s books and wrote essays on art (1930s–50s). Died in Leningrad and buried at Komarovo Cemetery (1970). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1906). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Fellowship of South Russian Artists (1910), Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris (1911), Union of Youth (1913–14), World of Art (1913, 1915, 1916), Exhibition of Pictures of Left-Wing Tendencies (1915), 1915 (1915), 0.10 Last Futurist Exhibition (1915), Knave of Diamonds (1916), Jewish Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (1915–19), First State Exhibition of Works of Art (1919), House of Artists (1919–22), Exhibition of Three with Marc Chagall and David Sterenberg in Moscow (1922), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in Berlin (1922), Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris (1925, gold medal), international exhibitions in Venice (1924), Dresden (1926) and New York (1929), Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris (1937, gold medal), group exhibition with Serge Tchekhonine, Robert Falk and Pyotr Vychegzhanin at the Galerie de l’Hirondelle in the Jardin du Palais-Royal in Paris (1928) and one-man shows in Leningrad (1926, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1961, 1969) and Moscow (1938). Honoured Artist of the RSFSR (1968), corresponding member of Akademie der Künste der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik (1970).

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