Living Head

Artist: Pavel Filonov
Date: 1923
Media: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 85 x 78 cm
Ownership: Russian Museum, St Petersburg
Property of the artist’s sister, Yevdokia Glebova, Leningrad (until 1977)
Living Head


This work marked a new stage in the creative evolution of Pavel Filonov. In the early 1920s, the master began to employ primarily abstract forms of expression. He sought correspondences between the creative act of art and the creative act of nature, relying on the possibilities of perception, intuition and associative thinking.

The main hero of Pavel Filonov’s pictures is the natural element. Like Kazimir Malevich, he was drawn to the infinite space of the universe. Unlike Malevich, however, his glance was fixed not on the sky, but on a drop of morning dew. Inside this drop, inner life flows past and the external world is simultaneously reflected.

This particular image personifies Filonov’s painterly expression for the matter of the universe in all its multitude of interconnections. The texture conveys movement in an illusory way, while the forms overflow into one another. The colour flames up in clots of colour or is extinguished, dissolving in the flickering of the aerial mass.

Random articles