Pavel Filonov

Born: 1883, Moscow
Died: 1941, Leningrad

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, teacher, art theorist, poet. Born in Moscow to a poor family of workers (1883). After the death of his father (1887) danced in the corps de ballet in theatres to earn money for the family (1889–94). Studied at parish secondary school (1894–96) and moved to St Petersburg (1897) after the death of his mother (1896). Lived with his married sister Alexandra Gue and studied at the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (1897–1903), Lev Dmitriyev-Kavkazsky’s private studio (1903–08) and under Hugo Salemann, Vasily Savinsky, Grigory Myasoyedov and Jan Ciagli?skj at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1908–10, expelled). Visited the Volga and Caucasus (1905), Mount Athos in Greece, Constantinople, Jerusalem and New Athos in Abkhazia (1907), Helsinki (1910) and Austria, Italy and France (1912–13). Founding member of the Union of Youth (1910). Published Canon and the Law in the Cubo-Futurist miscellany A Slap in the Face of Public Taste, expounding the principles of analytical art (1912). Collaborated with Josif Shkolnik on the sets and costumes for a performance of Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy at the Trinity and Luna Park Theatres in St Petersburg (1913). Formed a group of painters following the principles of analytical art (1913) and published the Made Pictures manifesto (1914). Illustrated Futurist booklets (1914–15) and his own poem Chant of Universal Flowering (1915). Fought on the Romanian front during the First World War (1916–18), chairman of the Military Revolutionary Committee of the Baltic Division (1917–18). Taught at the State Free Art Studios (1918–20). Lived in the house of his sister Ekaterina at 44 Old Peterhof Prospekt (1918) and awarded a room in a communal apartment of the House of Writers at 19 Literatorov Street on the River Karpovka Embankment (1919–41). Met Ekaterina Serebryakova (1921), a former member of the People’s Will terrorist group and twenty years his senior, whom he later possibly married (1929). Published the Declaration of Universal Flowering in the Life of Art magazine (1923). Headed the department of general ideology and helped to write the statute at the Institute of Artistic Culture in Petrograd (1923). Formed the Masters of Analytical Art from students of the Institute of Artistic Culture (1925–41), taught at the Academy of Arts (1925–30). Supervised the set and costume designs for Igor Terentiev’s production of Nikolai Gogol’s satire The Government Inspector at the House of Printing (1927) and the political propaganda play King Screw I at the Vasilyevsky Island Metalworkers’ Club (1929). Lived in poverty, but continued to work with his pupils, supervising their illustrations of the Kalevala for the Academia publishing house (1931–33). Survived by painting portraits of government ministers and posters for Communist holidays ostensibly carried out by his stepson, Pyotr Serebryakov (1930–38). Left without any work and income after the arrest of the sons of Ekaterina Serebryakova, who herself suffered a stroke (1938). Died of starvation during the Siege of Leningrad and buried at the St Seraphim Cemetery (1941). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1910). Contributed to the exhibitions of Knave of Diamonds in Moscow (1910–11), Union of Youth in St Petersburg (1910, 1911, 1912, 1913–14), Donkey’s Tail in Moscow (1912), Non-Party Society of Artists (1913), Exhibition of Moscow Futurists in Tiflis (1918), First State Free Exhibition at the Winter Palace in Petrograd (1918), Community of Artists in Petrograd (1921, 1922, 1925), Unification of New Trends in Art at the Museum of Artistic Culture in Petrograd (1922), Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture at the People’s House in Petrograd (1922), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in the Galerie Van Diemen at 21 Unter den Linden in Berlin (1922), De Eerste Russische Kunsttentoonstelling at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (1923), Exhibition of Pictures of Petrograd Artists of All Directions at the Academy of Arts in Petrograd (1923), Exhibition of Works of the Filonov Group at the Academy of Arts in Leningrad (1925), Exhibition of Masters of Analytical Art: The Filonov School at the House of Printing in Leningrad (1927), Artists of the RSFSR Over Fifteen Years at the Russian Museum (1932) and the Museum of History in Moscow (1933), Exhibition of Portraits and Exhibition of Pictures by the Leningrad Regional House of Artists at the First Five-Year Plan House of Culture in Leningrad (1933), Exhibition of Tourist Artists at the House of Scholars in Leningrad (1933), Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture of the Leningrad Municipal Committee of Artists at the Konstantin Stanislavsky House of Arts (1941) and one-man shows at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1929–30, not allowed to open; 1988, 2006), Novosibirsk (1967) and Paris (1989–90).

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