Alexander Shevchenko

Born: 1883, Kharkiv
Died: 1948, Moscow

Painter, draughtsman, engraver, writer on art, teacher. Born in the family of a clerk called Vasily Shevchenko in Kharkiv (1883). Studied painting and drawing at Kharkiv Realschule (1892–93) and worked as an assistant at the theatrical design studio of the Kharkiv Theatre of Opera (1894–95). Moved with his family to Moscow (1898). Studied under Konstantin Korovin and Mikhail Vrubel at the Stroganov School of Art and Industry in Moscow (1899–1905, 1906–07), at the Académie Carrière and under Étienne Dinet and Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian in Paris (1905–06) and under Abram Arkhipov, Valentin Serov and Konstantin Korovin at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1907–09, expelled). Visited Turkey, Greece and Egypt (1904). Married fellow student and artist Nadezhda Psischeva (1906). Passed through periods of interest in Impressionism (1905–06) and Symbolism (1907–10). Met Mikhail Larionov (1907) and became a leading member of the Neo-Primitive movement (1908–13). Influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Rayonism (1913–14), published Neo-Primitivism: Theory, Possibilities and Achievements (1913) and The Principles of Cubism and Other Modern Trends in the Painting of All Times and Peoples (1913). After his wife’s death from tuberculosis (1913) married her sister Lydia (1915). Fought in White Russia and Lithuania during the First World War (1915–16), wounded (1916) and discharged (1917). Joined the World of Art (1917). Worked for IZO Narkompros in Moscow (1918–20), sitting on the Commission for the Protection of Monuments of Art and History (1918–20) and heading the literary and art section (1918–21). Helped to found the Museum of Painterly Culture (1918–19) and worked at the Institute of Artistic Culture (1920). Taught at the State Free Art Studios/VKhUTEMAS/VKhUTEIN in Moscow (1918–28, professor and dean of the painting faculty), Ukrainian Academy of Arts in Kiev (1918–19), Institute of Proletarian Fine Art in Moscow (from 1930) and the Moscow Textile Institute (1940–42). Published the Colour Dynamos and Tectonic Primitivism manifesto with Alexei Grischenko (1919). Member of the Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1921), Makovets (1922) and the Society of Moscow Artists (1928), founding member of the Guild of Painters (1926). Influenced by Cézanneism, Fauvism and Art Deco (1920s). Visited Dagestan, Adjara and Azerbaijan (1929, 1930, 1932) and worked on an oriental series (1932–35). Accused of Formalism (1933), gradually withdrew from art life (late 1930s) and wrote memoirs (1940s). Died in Moscow and buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery (1948). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1903). Contributed to the Salon des Indépendants (1906), Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1907–08), Vladimir Izdebsky Salon (1910–11), Knave of Diamonds (1910, 1916), Moscow Salon (1911), Union of Youth (1911–12), Donkey’s Tail (1912), Target (1913), World of Art (1913, 1917, 1921), No. 4 Futurists, Rayonists, Primitive (1914), First Exhibition of Pictures of the Trade Union of Artists at the Art Salon in Moscow (1918), First State Exhibition of Pictures by Local and Moscow Artists at the Borokhov Club in Vitebsk (1919), XII State Exhibition: Colour Dynamos and Tectonic Primitivism at the Claudia Mikhailova Art Salon in Moscow (1919), XIX State Exhibition at the Claudia Mikhailova Art Salon in Moscow (1920), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in the Galerie Van Diemen at 21 Unter den Linden in Berlin (1922), Makovets (1922, 1925), Guild of Painters (1926, 1928, 1930), Exhibition of the Latest Tendencies in Art in Leningrad (1927), Society of Moscow Artists (1928, 1929), Russische Kunst von heute in Vienna (1930), Artists of the RSFSR Over Fifteen Years in Leningrad and Moscow (1932–33), one-man show at the State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1933, closed after ten days) and a retrospective at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (2010).

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