Mikhail Larionov

Born: 1881, Tiraspole (Kherson Province)
Died: 1964, Fontenay-aux-Roses (France)

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, illustrator, theorist, writer, teacher. Elder brother of Ivan Larionov. Born in the family of an artist and military doctor called Fyodor Larionov and his wife Alexandra Petrovskaya in the town of Tiraspole in Kherson Province (1881). Grew up at his grandparents’ home in Tiraspole and took up painting (1883). Studied at the Konstantin Voskresensky Realschule in Moscow (1893–98) and under Isaac Levitan, Valentin Serov, Konstantin Korovin, Sergei Vasilyevich Ivanov and Vasily Baksheyev at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1898–1910). Passed through periods of interest in Neo-Impressionism (1901–06), Post-Impressionism (1906), Neo-Primitivism and Cubism (1907–12), Futurism and Rayonism (1912–15). Helped Mikhail Vrubel to create majolicas for the Metropole Hotel (1899). Met Natalia Goncharova, who became his lifelong friend and partner (1900). Suspended from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1901–02). Worked in the Crimea with Goncharova (1903) and travelled to Paris in the company of Sergei Diaghilev to help organise L’Exposition de l’Art Russe at the Salon d’Automne (1906). Visited London and returned to Moscow (1906), where he organised such avant-garde exhibitions as Stephanos (1907), Golden Fleece Salons (1908–10), Knave of Diamonds (1910–11), Donkey’s Tail (1912), Target (1913), Exhibition of Icon-Painting Originals and Lubok Prints (1913) and No. 4 Futurists, Rayonists, Primitive (1914). Painted the Barbers series and other scenes from provincial life (1907–09). Taught at Ilya Mashkov’s school of art in Maly Kharitonievsky Lane in Moscow (1908–10). Suspended from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1909), expelled for organising a student demonstration against the established teaching methods (1910). Served in the Russian army near Moscow, which inspired his Soldier series (1910–11). Painted the Seasons and Venus series (1912). Illustrated such collections of Futurist poetry as Alexei Kruchenykh and Velimir Khlebnikov’s Old-Time Love (1912) and Worldbackwards (1912), Alexei Kruchenykh’s A Game in Hell (1912), Pomade (1913), Half-Alive (1913) and Hermits (1913), Sergei Bobrov’s Gardeners over Vines (1913), Konstantin Bolshakov’s Le futur (1913) and Heart in a Glove (1913), Anton Letov’s Record and the Futurist almanac A Trap for Judges II (1913). Designed the sets for Konstantin Bolshakov’s Futurist play Dance of the Streets at the closure of Goncharova’s one-woman show at the Claudia Mikhailova Art Salon in Moscow (1913). Read a paper on Rayonism at the Target debate on the theme of The East, Nationality and the West at the Polytechnic Museum in Moscow. Published the Donkey’s Tail and Target collection (including his article on Rayonist Painting) and the Rayonism brochure (1913). Collaborated with Goncharova on the Rayonists and Futurists manifesto (1913) and with Ilya Zdanevich on Why Do We Paint Ourselves? (1913) and the Da-Manifesto (1914). Starred with Goncharova in the first ever Futurist film, The Drama in Cabaret 13, directed by Vladimir Kasianov (1914). Travelled to Paris with Goncharova to design the sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s production of Mikhail Fokine’s opera-ballet Le Coq d’or (1914). Held a joint exhibition with Goncharova at the Galerie Paul Guillaume in Paris, with the foreword to the catalogue written by Guillaume Apollinaire (1914). Returned to Russia following the outbreak of the First World War (1914), travelling via Switzerland, Italy, Greece and Constantinople. Conscripted into the Russian army and suffered heavy concussion and shell shock at the Battle of the Masurian Lakes (1914). Hospitalised for three months in Moscow (1914). Discharged (1915) and invited by Sergei Diaghilev to join him at Ouchy in Switzerland, travelling with Goncharova via Finland, Sweden, Norway, Britain and France (1915). Accompanied Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes on tours to Spain (1916) and Italy (1917), settled in Paris with Goncharova at 43 Rue de Seine (1917). Designed the sets and costumes for Sergei Diaghilev’s premieres of Leonide Massine’s ballets Le Soleil de nuit at the Grand Théâtre in Geneva (1915), Kikimora at the Teatro Victoria Eugenia in San Sebastián (1916) and Les Contes russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris (1917), Mikhail Larionov and Tadeusz Leon Slawi?ski’s ballet Chout at the Théâtre de la Gaîté-Lyrique in Paris (1921) and Bronislava Nijinska’s ballet Renard, Histoire burlesque chantée et jouée at the Théâtre Nationale de l’Opéra in Paris (1922, 1929). Illustrated the works of Nikolai Gumilyov (1917), Lord Berner’s Trois Morceaux pour Piano (1919), Alexander Blok’s The Twelve (1920) and Vladimir Mayakovsky’s The Sun (1922). Published such albums of stencil prints as L’Art Décoratif Théâtral Moderne (1919) and Voyage en Turquie (1928), contributed lithographs to the Bauhaus print folios (1923). Vice-president of the Union des Artistes Russes in France. Held a series of costume balls to raise money for the Union des artistes russes à Paris, including the Grand Bal Travesti/Transmental (1923), Bal Banal (1924) and the Bal de la Grande Ourse (1925). Helped to curate the Soviet section at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris (1925) and the Exhibition of Modern French Art at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, which included many works by Russian émigrés (1928). Returned to figurative painting after the death of Diaghilev (1929), painted still-lifes, interiors and theatrical subjects. Designed the sets and costumes for the premieres of Tadeusz Leon Slawi?ski’s ballet Symphonie classique at the Théâtre Pigalle (1931), Serge Lifar’s ballet Sur le Borysthène at the Théâtre Nationale de l’Opéra in Paris (1932) and Léon Woizikowski’s ballet Port-Saïd at the Coliseum Theatre in London (1935). Adopted French citizenship (1938). Confined to his apartment at 16 Rue Jacques-Callot during the Second World War (1940–44). Suffered a stroke while working as an adviser to a ballet company in London and underwent an operation at the French Hospital and Dispensary at 172-176 Shaftesbury Avenue (1946). Officially registered his marriage with Goncharova (1955). Wrote memoirs and a planned book on the Russian ballet (1950s). After the death of Goncharova (1962) married his long-term lover Alexandra Tomilina (1963). Died in the retirement home of Melle Blanc at 1 Rue Jean-Jaurès in Fontenay-aux-Roses and buried at the Cimetière parisien d’Ivry in Val-de-Marne (1964). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1898). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1898–99, 1901, 1903, 1904), Moscow Society of Lovers of the Arts (1906), Sergei Diaghilev’s Exposition de l’Art russe at the Salon d’Automne in Paris (1906) and Russische Kunst-Ausstellung at the Kunstsalon Schulte in Berlin (1906), Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1906, 1907), Union of Russian Artists (1906–10), World of Art (1906, 1911–13, 1915), First Exhibition of Independents (1907), Stephanos (1907–08), Venice Biennale (1907, 1920, 1960), Wreath (1908), Link (1908), Exhibition of Modern Trends in Art (1908), Golden Fleece Salons (1908–10), Wreath-Stephanos (1909), Vladimir Izdebsky Salons (1909–10, 1911), Knave of Diamonds (1910–11, 1913), Union of Youth in Riga, St Petersburg and Moscow (1910–12), Moscow Salon (1911), Donkey’s Tail (1912), Modern Painting in Ekaterinburg (1912), Der blaue Reiter in Munich (1912), Roger Fry’s Second Post-Impressionist Exhibition at the Grafton Galleries in London (1912), Der Sturm in Berlin (1912), Herwarth Walden’s Erster Deutscher Herbstsalon at the Galerie Der Sturm in Berlin (1913), Target (1913), No. 4 Futurists, Rayonists, Primitive (1914), 1915 (1915), Exhibition of Moscow Futurists in Tiflis (1918) exhibitions of sets and costumes designed in collaboration with Goncharova (1918–19), First State Exhibition of Art and Science in Kazan (1920), Exposition internationale d’art moderne in Geneva (1920–21), Salon d’Automne (1921), Salon des Indépendants (1920s), Salon des Tuileries (1920s), Exposition Internationale des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux (1927, honorary diploma), Knave of Diamonds retrospective at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (1927), Exhibition of the Latest Tendencies in Art in Leningrad (1927), Exhibition of Modern French Art at the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (1928), Exposition rétrospective de maquettes, décors & costumes exécutés pour la Compagnie des Ballets Russes de Serge de Diaghilev at the Galerie Billiet-Pierre Worms in Paris (1930), Art of the Epoch of Imperialism at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1932), Alfred Barr’s Cubism and Abstract Art at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (1936), Les Ballets Russes de Diaghilev 1909–1929 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (1939), Union des Patriotes Soviétiques in Paris (1945), Hommage à la Victoire at 4 Rue Galliera in Paris (1946), Le Rayonnisme 1909–14 at the Galerie des Deux-Îles in Paris (1948), Michel Seupor’s Les Premiers Maîtres de l’Art Abstrait at the Galerie Maeght in Paris (1949), Richard Buckle’s Diaghilev Exhibition at the Edinburgh Festival and Forbes House in London (1954), Evocation de I’époque héroïque at the Galerie de l’Institut in Paris (1955), Art Abstrait: Les Premières Générations in Paris (1957) and Brussels (1958), Beitrag der Russen zur modernen Kunst in Frankfurt-on-Main (1959), Les Sources du XXe siècle at the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris (1960), Les peintres russes de l’École de Paris in Saint-Denis (1960) and Paris (1961), Der Sturm: Herwarth Walden und die europäische Avantgarde at the Nationalgalerie in der Orangerie des Schlosses Charlottenburg in West Berlin (1961), Der blaue Reiter at the Galerie Maeght in Paris (1962) and the exhibitions of Russian art in London (1921, 1935), Paris (1921, 1925, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1936), New York (1923, 1924), The Hague (1924), Brussels (1928), Birmingham (1928), Belgrade (1930), Wilmington (1932) and Prague (1935). One-man shows in Moscow (1911), Paris (1914, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1929, 1931, 1939, 1948, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1963), Rome (1917), New York (1922), Tokyo (1923), London (1926, 1961, 1962), Basle (1961), Milan (1961), Bristol (1961), Leeds (1961) and Copenhagen (1964) and memorial exhibitions in Moscow (1965), Lyon (1967), New York (1969), Paris (1969, 1971, 1995), Brussels (1976), Leningrad (1980) and Christchurch (2010).

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