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 Pavel  Filonov

Born:   January 8, 1883
Deceased:   December 3, 1941

Russian artist and theorist of art, a representative of futurism, one of the leaders of Russian avante-garde of the first half o


Pavel Nikolayevich Filonov was born into a driver's family in Moscow on January 8 (20), 1883. He lost his parents in childhood. In 1897 the family taken care of by his sister Aleksandra moved to St. Petersburg. Pavel Filonov studied at the Paintings Courses (1897–1901), L.E.Dmitriyev-Kavkazsky's School Studio (1903–1908) and was an auditor of the Petersburg Academy of Arts (1908–1910). In 1905–1907 the young artist traveled across Volga, the Caucasus (New Athos), and made a trip to Jerusalem (via Constantinople). He was a member of The Union of Youth (from 1910). Upon its disintegration he and David Kakabadze organized the short-lived group Intimate Studio of Painters and Draftsmen “Ready Made Paintings” (1914). In the same period he became friends with the avant-garde poet Velimir Khlebnikov and tried his wings as a poet too, having published his poem Propeven about Sprouted World (1915). Its anti-war pathos is combined with mystical motives of the universal transformation of the person and the nature. In 1916–1918 he served in the field army in the Romanian frontline.
Pavel Filonov’s first considerable works, which were usually painted in mixed technique on paper, closely adjoin Symbolism and Modernism with their allegorical symbols and passionate interest in the “eternal subjects” of life.
After returning from the frontline to Petrograd (1918), he actively joined the life of arts. He became one of the initiators of founding the local Inkhuk (Institute of Art Culture) and headed the department of general ideology from 1923. The same year he published the World Heyday Declaration (1923), which became the basis for the group of his students and followers, Masters of Analytical Art (1925–1927). His works of those years epically “formulate” entire monumental layers of life, such as the so-called "formulas" of the proletariat, revolution, space, spring, etc. and a huge series of “the heads”. However, in spite of Filonov’s sincere revolutionary belief, the social utopia in his art is paradoxically combined with anti-Utopia, which reveals tragic gaps and cracks of life. The artist faced increasing censorship pressure: his first personal exhibition prepared in halls of the Russian Museum was banned in 1930 and his works became the object of systematic attacks by the printed media.
Pavel Filonov took pains to repeatedly paint naturalistic portraits. However, his attempts to create “a subject painting” in the spirit of Socialist Realism (Tractor Shop of Putilov Factory, 1931) or the gala portrait of Joseph Stalin, 1936; the Russian Museum, St. Petersburg) were not a success with public. Cornered, the artist nevertheless persistently continued to work. On the one hand, his serial “formulas” of the 1930s are imbued with the feeling of universal decay, and on the other hand he stuck to stoical conviction in the truth of communistic ideals.
For this reason Pavel Filonov strictly forbade to sell his works, since he considered them to be the national heritage of the proletariat. Thanks to this fact almost all of his paintings were donated by his sister, E.N.Glebova to the Russian Museum, where they have been kept till date.
Pavel Filonov died in Leningrad on December 3, 1941.

Tags: Pavel Filonov Russian Artists    

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