Nikolai Suetin

Born: 1897, Myatlevskaya (Kaluga Province)
Died: 1954, Leningrad

Painter, graphic artist, applied artist, designer. Born in Myatlevskaya on the Kaluga-Vyazma railway line in the family of assistant station-master Mikhail Suetin (1897). Attended grammar school in Kaluga (1900s) and military academy in St Petersburg (early 1910s). Called up into the Russian army during the First World War (1914), served in the Caucasus (1914) and Vitebsk (from 1915). Conscripted into the Red Army (1917–22). Studied under Jean Pougny and Kazimir Malevich at the Vitebsk School of Art (1918–22). Decorated trams, buildings and the streets of Vitebsk and Smolensk on Communist holidays (1920–21). Member of UNOVIS (1920), designed the UNOVIS seal (1920), elected chairman of the creative committee (1922). Accompanied Kazimir Malevich and a group of other students to Petrograd (1922). Designed forms and painted compositions at the State/Lomonosov Porcelain Factory (1922–54, artistic director from 1933, principal designer and deputy director from 1950). Worked under Kazimir Malevich at the formal and theoretical department and the department of general ideology at the Institute of Artistic Culture (1923–26), taught at the laboratory of industrial art (1923–24), deputy head of the department of material culture (1925–26). Created architectons with Kazimir Malevich (1923–26). Elected a conference member of the department of modern trends in Russian art at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1926). Designed furniture for workers’ accommodation (1927) and worked with Ilya Chashnik for Alexander Nikolsky’s architectural brigade (1927–28), designing wallpaper and colour schemes for painting buildings. Worked at the experimental laboratory for the study of industrial art at the Institute of the History of the Arts (1927–29). Married at various times to a woman called Inna, Anna Leporskaya, Vera Zitko and Sarra Kamenetskaya. Designed an architecton coffin for the funeral of Kazimir Malevich in Leningrad and a Suprematist gravestone in the form of a black cube in the village of Nemchinovka near Moscow (1935, destroyed during the Second World War and restored in 1988). Decorated the interiors of the Soviet pavilions at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris (1937, grand prix) and New York World’s Fair (1939–40). Designed war posters and helped to camouflage buildings during the Siege of Leningrad, when he avoided starvation by eating paint (1941–44). Decorated the grave of Count Alexander Suvorov in the Trinity Cathedral of the St Alexander Nevsky Monastery (1942). Awarded the Order of Lenin (1944). Collaborated with architects Kirill Johansen and Vasily Petrov on the Heroic Defence of Leningrad exhibition (1944), which was transformed into the Museum of the Defence of Leningrad (1946), but later closed down for political reasons (1949). Attacked in the Evening Leningrad newspaper (1951) and spent the last years of his life in fear of arrest (early 1950s). Suffered a heart attack in Moscow (1953). Died in Leningrad and buried at the Cemetery of St John the Theologian (1954). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1920). Contributed to the exhibitions of UNOVIS in Vitebsk (1920, 1921) and Moscow (1921, 1922), All-Russian Exhibition of Art and Industry in Moscow (1923), Exhibition of Pictures of Petrograd Artists of All Directions in Petrograd (1923), Exhibition of Bolshevik Porcelain in Stockholm (1923), Exhibition of Works of the State Porcelain Factory Over Seven Years in Leningrad (1925), Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris (1925, silver medal), Posters and Advertising after October at the House of Printing in Leningrad (1926), Exhibition of Soviet Porcelain (1926, 1927), Terza Mostra Internazionale delle Arti Decorative in Monza (1927, diploma), First Municipal Exhibition of Fine Arts in Leningrad (1930), Artists of the RSFSR Over Fifteen Years in Leningrad (1932) and Moscow (1933), First Exhibition of Leningrad Artists at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1935), Malevich, Suetin, Chashnik at the Leonard Hutton Galleries in New York (1983), Malevitch, Tchachnik, Souietine – dessins suprematistes at the Galerie Pierre Brullé in Paris (1995) and a retrospective at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg (2008).

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