Nikolai Lapshin

Born: 1891, St Petersburg
Died: 1942, Leningrad

Painter, graphic artist, engraver, applied artist, theatrical designer, illustrator, teacher. Born in the family of a merchant called Fyodor Lapshin in St Petersburg (1891). Studied at the primary school of the Baron Stieglitz Central School of Technical Drawing (1900–09), Realschule (1909–11), Polytechnic Institute in St Petersburg (1911–12), under Ivan Bilibin, Arkady Rylov and Nikolaos Chimonas at the School of Drawing of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (1911–12) and in the studios of Jan Ciagli?skj (1912) and Mikhail Bernstein (1913–15). Founded the Bloodless Murder group with Vera Yermolaeva and Mikhail Le-Dantiu (1915) and helped to design the sets for a performance of Ilya Zdanevich’s transrational play Janko I, King of Albania at Mikhail Bernstein’s studio (1916). Fought in Galicia during the First World War (1915–16), wounded during a cavalry attack and evacuated to Petrograd (1916), where he decorated soldiers’ clubs and cinemas (1916). Joined Freedom to Art (1917) and Art and Revolution (1917). Decorated the streets of Petrograd for the opening of the Constituent Assembly and the first anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution (1918). Painted the Petrograd series of Cubist watercolours (1918–21). Fought in the Red Army (1919). Worked for IZO Narkompros (1919–21). Taught at the VKhUTEMAS (1920–22), Alexei Uspensky Studio of Painting, Engraving and Drawing in the Moscow-Narva district of Petrograd (early 1920s), Polygraphic Technical College (1929–33), Leningrad Institute of Industrial Construction (1931–33), Ilya Repin Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture (1933–37) and the Leningrad Institute of Engineers of Communal Construction (1933–40), headed the studio of painting at the Leningrad House of the Architect (from 1935). Assistant director of the Museum of Artistic Culture (1921–23). Worked as a painter for the State Porcelain Factory (1921–23) and constructor for the Lomonosov Porcelain Factory (1934–35). Member of the Unification of New Trends in Art (from 1922), Society of Individualist Artists (1924–25), Four Arts (from 1928) and the Leningrad branch of the Union of Artists (from 1932, deputy chairman of the graphic art section from 1938, board member from 1939). Visited Tallinn, Riga, Berlin and Prague (1924), sketched views of Prague, Leningrad, Pavlovsk, Peterhof and Oranienbaum for postcards (1925–28). Collaborated with various magazines, including Mukhomor (1922–23), The Life of Art (1922–30), Oras (1923–1926), Behemoth (1924), New Robinson (1924–25) and Campfire (1936). Worked for the State Publishing House (from 1925), illustrated Nikolai Chukovsky’s Our Cuisine (1925), Elizaveta Polonskaya’s Hours (1925), Osip Mandelstam’s Balloons (1926), Mikhail Zoschenko’s Devil (1928), Nikolai Oleinikov’s An Amazing Festival (1928), Elena Danko’s The Chinese Secret (1928), Ilya Marshak’s The Sun on the Table (1926), What Hour Is It? (1927), In Black on White (1928) and A Hundred Thousand Whys (1929), Nikolai Zabolotsky’s An Enigmatic City (1931), The Travels of Marco Polo (1934, won first prize at the international competition held by the Limited Editions Club in New York), E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Der goldne Topf (1936), Japanese Folktales (1936) and Alexander Pushkin’s The Little Tragedies (1936), The Stone Guest (1937) and The Miserly Knight (1937). Artistic director of the Siskin and Hedgehog magazines (1928–31). Decorated the streets of Leningrad on the fifteenth anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution (1932). Took up lithography (1933) and painted watercolour views of Leningrad (1934–40). Designed the sets for performances of Alexander Pushkin’s The Little Tragedies and Friedrich Wolf’s Floridsdorf at the Bolshoi Theatre of Drama in Leningrad (1936). Travelled down the River Volga and River Kama with Alexander Vedernikov (1936), visited Karelia (1937). Lost his eyesight (1941) and died during the Siege of Leningrad (1942). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1913). Contributed to the exhibitions of Target (1913), No. 4 Futurists, Rayonists, Primitive (1914, surname misspelt Lopatin in the catalogue), Unification of New Trends in Art (1919–22), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in the Galerie Van Diemen at 21 Unter den Linden in Berlin (1922), Society of Individualist Artists (1922–24), Four Arts (1924–31), Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris (1925, gold medal), Salon des Indépendants (1925–40), Internationale Buchkunst Ausstellung at the Museum der bildenden Künste in Leipzig (1927), Terza Mostra Internazionale delle Arti Decorative in Monza (1927), Société des Artistes Français (1929), Grand Exhibition of Russian Art at the Paviljon Cvijeta Zuzori? in Belgrade (1930), Artists of the RSFSR Over Fifteen Years at the State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1933), Soviet Graphic Art at the Bloomsbury Gallery in London (1934), First Exhibition of Works by Leningrad Artists at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1935), Salon d’Automne (1936) and Exhibition of Works of Graphic Art by Leningrad Artists in Pskov and Novgorod (1940).

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