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 Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin

Born:   October 24 (on November 5) 1878
Deceased:   February 15, 1939

One of the most outstanding Russian artists of the early 20th century, art theorist, writer and teacher.


Kuzma Sergeyevich Petrov-Vodkin was born into a shoemaker's family in the Khvalynsk town of the Saratov Province on October 24 (on November 5), 1878.

As a technical training school student, he got acquainted with two local icon painters and observed them working through all the stages of icon painting. Greatly impressed by their skills he tried to oil paint icons and landscapes. In 1893 the beginning artist it graduated from training school.

After a summer of work in a ship-repair workshop Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin moved to Samara to enter a railway college but failed. As a result he found himself taking painting and drawing classes in Fyodor Burov’s studio. This is where he learned the basics of painting art. Unfortunately, Fyodor Burov died in 1895 and Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin did not complete his studies. Later he recalled: “Until out last days with Fyodor Burov we did not try life study and thus never got to the essence of knowledge”.
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin returned to his homeland and was lucky to meet the well-known Petersburg architect Roman Meltzer, who had just arrived in Khvalynsk. He was invited by the landowner Yu. I. Kazaryina for constructing another   mansion to her. Kuzma’s mother worked as the house chambermaid for Kazaryina’s sister and managed to show paintings by her talented son to the architect. Roman Meltzer was very impressed with Kuzma’s works and took him to study in the Saint Petersburg Art and Industry Academy. Khvalynsk merchants, including Mrs. Kazaryina monthly sent 25 rubles to support Kuzma, but he considered it to be handout that he would have to pay back for”.
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin started his artistic career with the Mother and Child image on the church apsis wall of the Roman Vreden Orthopedic Institute in Aleksandrovsky Park in St. Petersburg. In order to make majolica of his icon sketch Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin travelled to London, where the picture was processed at the Dulton ceramic factory.
In 1897 Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin moved to Moscow and entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture, where he studied under Valentin Serov. In 1900 the artist worked at a ceramic factory near Moscow. He graduated in 1905.
From 1905 to 1908 Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin studied in private art academies of Paris. During that period he also managed to visit Italy (1905) and North Africa (1907). 
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin became a member of the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) association in 1911 and the Four Arts union in 1924.
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin was a prolific graphic artist and stage designer in the Soviet Union. He started his theater work at Nezlobin's theater in 1913. He designed the performances Maiden of Orleans (1913), Leonid Andreyev’s play Satan’s Diary (Pushkin Leningrad Drama Theater, 1923), Marriage of Figaro (Pushkin Leningrad Drama Theater, 1935), etc. 
In addition to that he was into writing and authored short stories, stories, plays and epitomes.
Besides, he wrote theoretical articles on art and was engaged in teaching art. The artist came to be one of reorganizers of the art education system.
Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin died in Leningrad on February 15, 1939. He was laid to rest in the Volkovo Cemetery.

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