Konstantin Rozhdestvensky

Born: 1906, Tomsk
Died: 1997, Moscow
Painter, graphic artist, exhibition designer, illustrator, teacher. Born in Tomsk in the family of an archdeacon called Ivan Rozhdestvensky (1906), although later forced to conceal this information and claimed that he was born in a peasant family in the village of Berikul in Tomsk Province. Attended the Kliment Timiryazev Practical Polytechnic Institute in Tomsk (1920–22), paying for his education by painting wooden toys in a toy workshop (from 1920). Studied art at Mitrophan Polyakov’s private studio in Tomsk (1919–22) and at the Tomsk House of Education (1921–23). Member of the Society of Tomsk Artists (1921). Designed the show of handicrafts at the Exhibition of Agriculture in Tomsk (1922). Assistant designer (1922) and head designer (1923) at the Bolshoi Theatre in Tomsk. Awarded a scholarship by the Tomsk House of Education to continue his studies at the VKhUTEIN in Petrograd (1923). Moved to Petrograd (1923), where he was disappointed by the academic teaching methods at the VKhUTEIN and joined the department of painterly culture of the Institute of Artistic Culture as a post-graduate student (1923). Studied under Kazimir Malevich at the formal and theoretical department of the Institute of Artistic Culture (1923–26) and lived in a room in Malevich’s apartment at 2 Pochtamtskaya Street (1923–28). Worked in Lev Yudin’s laboratory of form and Vera Yermolaeva’s laboratory of colour (from 1923), studying Impressionism (1923–24) and Cézanneism (1924–25). Organised lectures and excursions round the Museum of Artistic Culture (1924). Worked with Ilya Chashnik at the department of the experimental study of the poster at the Decorative Institute (1925–27) and taught the fourth-year seminar on Cézanne at the Institute of the History of the Arts (1928–29). Began to gradually distance himself from Malevich (1928–29) and joined the Group of Painterly-Plastic Realism, which met at Lev Yudin’s room in a wooden house on Shamshev Street on the Petrograd Side and at Vera Yermolaeva’s apartment on the 10th Line of Vasilyevsky Island (1927–34). Worked as a designer at the Maxim Gorky Club for Metalworkers on the Petrograd Side (1928–29), designed perfume labels and illustrated children’s books for the State Publishing House (1929–30), taught art at the First Five-Year Plan House of Culture (1930). Visited Siberian collective and state farms as the correspondent of the Hedgehog and Siskin magazines (1930). Worked as an artistic editor for Uchpedgiz (1930–33) and the Bolshevik Relief and Young Shock Workers magazines (1930–35). Abandoned professional painting and took up exhibition design (1936). Helped Nikolai Suetin to design the interiors of the Soviet pavilions at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne in Paris (1937) and New York World’s Fair (1939–40). Worked at a studio on Krestovsky Island (1928–41). Moved permanently to Moscow (1941), where he helped to camouflage buildings during the Second World War (1941–42). Worked at the Academy of Architecture of the USSR (1941–48). Collaborated with theatrical director Ernst Garin and designed for the Central Theatre Studio of the Cinema Actor at 33 Worowski (now Povarskaya) Street (from 1943). Worked as head designer of the All-Union Construction Exhibition in Moscow (1944–56) and deputy head designer of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition in Moscow (1952–54). Designed the interiors of the Soviet pavilions at Expo ’58 in Brussels (1958, grand prix) and Expo ’70 in Osaka (1970) and many national and international exhibitions, including the USSR Exhibition in New York (1959), Exposition industrielle soviétique in Paris (1961) and the Moscow-Paris exhibition at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1981). Awarded the Order of the Red Banner (1966). Secretary for applied art of the Union of Artists (1963–88). Died in Moscow (1997). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1922), including Exhibition of Pictures of Tomsk Artists (1922), Moscow-Paris at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1981) and posthumous one-man shows at the Galerie Gmurzynska in Cologne (1993) and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow (2006–07). Corresponding (1962) and full (1979) member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR, Honoured Artist of the RSFSR (1963), People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1976).

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