Alexander Volkov

Alexander Volkov (1886–1957), Russian avant-garde painter, graphic artist, theatrical and poster designer, poet, teacher. Studied at the Imperial Academy of Arts and Kiev School of Art. Lived and worked in Tashkent. Honoured Artist of Uzbekistan, People’s Artist of Uzbekistan.
Born: 1886, Novy Margelan (Turkestan)
Died: 1957, Tashkent (Uzbekistan)

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical and poster designer, poet, teacher. Father of Valery Volkov and artist Alexander Volkov (born 1937). Born to Nikolai Volkov (Russian army doctor of the 14th Turkestan Line Battalion) and Feodosia Davydova (allegedly a gypsy girl captured by Russian soldiers) in Novy Margelan (renamed Skobelev in 1907 and Fergana in 1924) in eastern Turkestan (1886). Moved with his family to Kerki (now Atamurat) on the border with Afghanistan (1888). Studied at primary school (1888–97), Tashkent Realschule (1897–1900), Second Orenburg Military Academy (1900–05), Faculty of Physics and Mathematics of St Petersburg University (1906–08), David Bortniker’s studio in St Petersburg (1907–08), under Vladimir Makovsky at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1908–10), under Nicholas Roerich and Ivan Bilibin at the Mikhail Bernstein and Leonid Sherwood School of Painting, Drawing and Sculpture (1910–12) and under Fedir Krychevsky and Vladimir Menk at Kiev School of Art (1912–16), where he met Alexandra Exter and Alexander Tyshler and was influenced by Mikhail Vrubel. Passed through periods of interest in Art Nouveau (mid-1910s), Cubo-Futurism (late 1910s–early 1920s), Abstractionism (mid-1920s), decorative figurative art (late 1920s–early 1930s) and Socialist Realism (late 1930s). Married Maria Taratunina (1915) and returned to Tashkent (1916). Taught drawing at schools in Tashkent (1916–17), Tashkent Teachers’ Institute and Higher Pedagogical Courses (1917–18) and Tashkent Railway College (1917–19). Appointed director of the first museum of art in Turkestan (1919), located in the former palace of Grand Duke Nikolai Konstantinovich. Decorated the streets of Tashkent (1919). Worked for the Turkestan People’s School of Art (1919–22) and Narkompros (1920–21), taught at the Faculty of Pedagogy of Turkestan University (1921–22). Designed the sets and costumes for a production of Sergei Polivanov’s play Tarquinius the Priest at the Proletcult Theatre (1922). Visited Moscow (1923), where he met Vladimir Mayakovsky and decorated the Turkestan Pavilion at the First All-Russian Exhibition of Agriculture, Handicrafts and Industry (1923). Taught at the art studio of the M. P. Kafanov People’s House in Tashkent (1923), his own studio in Tashkent Museum of Art (1924–26), Tashkent Technical College of Art (1929–41) and Tashkent School of Art (1944–46, sacked for Formalism). Suffered the death of Maria Taratunina (1925) and married Elena Melnikova (1926). Member of the Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia (1927), Masters of the New Orient (1929) and the Association of Workers of the Fine Arts (1930). Founded the Volkov Brigade (1931–32) and travelled widely across Uzbekistan (1930s), visiting Shohimardon and the Kadyr’ya and Chirchiq Hydroelectric Power Stations (1931–34). Accused of Formalism (1934–36). Honoured Artist of Uzbekistan (1941). Designed propaganda posters for TASS (1941–46). People’s Artist of Uzbekistan (1946). Accused of cosmopolitanism (1949), expelled from all posts in the Union of Artists (1949) and isolated from contact with the outside world (1949–57). Died in Tashkent and buried at the Botkin Cemetery in Tashkent with a gravestone sculpted by his son Alexander (1957). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1914). Contributed to the First Discussion Exhibition of Unifications of Active Revolutionary Art in Moscow (1924), Association of Artists of Revolutionary Russia in Tashkent (1928), Masters of the New Orient in Tashkent (1928–30), Association of Workers of the Fine Arts in Tashkent (1930), Posters in the Service of the Five-Year Plan at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (1932), Soviet Art Exhibition in Philadelphia (1934), L’Art russe des Scythes à nos jours: Trésors des musées soviétiques at the Grand Palais in Paris (1967), Senior Soviet Artists on Central Asia and the Caucasus at the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow (1971), The East and Russian Art at the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow (1977), Paris-Moscou (1900–1930) at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris (1979), Moscow-Paris (1900–1930) at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1981), Exhibition of Three Volkovs at the House of the Cinema in Tashkent (1984), Alexander Volkov and Students at the Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow (1987), The Volkov Artists: Three Generations at the Kovcheg Gallery in Moscow (1991), Volkov’s Dynasty at the Gregory Gallery in Washington DC and New York (1994–95), Cubisme-Cubism-Kubismus: An Artistic Breakthrough in Europe (1906–26) at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (2003) and one-man shows in Tashkent (1920, 1921, 1923, 1934, 1936, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1956–57, 1959, 1986, 2006–07), Moscow (1923, 1934, 1967, 2007), Stalingrad (1945) and Tartu (1963).

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