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 Serge Sudeikin

Born:   19 March 1882
Deceased:   12 August 1946

Painter, scenery designer


Sergey Yurievich Sudeikin was born in Petersburg into the family of a gendarme officer named George Porfirevich Sudeikin. In 1897 he entered the Moscow School for Painting, Sculpturing and Architecture. Among his teachers there were A.E. Arkhipov, A.S. Stepanov, A. M.Vasnetsov, N.A.Kasatkin, L. O.Pasternak. In 1902 he was expelled from the Art School for showing his works “of indecent content” at a student exhibition.

The beginning of Sergey Sudeikin’s career as a scenery designer was associated with the Moscow Theater "Hermitage", where he worked on stage design of a number of operas in 1902. Savva Mamontov was the first to involve Sudeikin in artwork for operas in the Moscow Theater "Hermitage". Later stage art design became his major career. The artist cooperated with many well-known theatrical figures.

In 1909 he created scenery for Bernard Show’s play “Caesar and Cleopatra” staged at F.Komissarzhevskaya's New Drama Theater in Petersburg. In 1911 he worked on stage design of various ballet performances as well as Mikhail Kuzmin's comic play “Amusement of Maidens” in the Petersburg Maly Drama Theater.

In 1909 the artist entered the St.Petersburg Arts Academy, where he started working in the workshop of D. Kardovsky from 1910. In the 1910s Sudeikin became one of the central figures of Petersburg literary and artistic life. He became a close friend with Mikhail Kuzmin and illustrated the poet’s books Love Chiming Clock (1910) and Autumn Lakes (1912).

At the same time the artist got acquainted with Alexander Benois and other members of the Mir Iskusstva (World of Art) group. In 1911 Sudeikin joined Mir Iskusstva and became a constant participant of its exhibitions. Most of all he was friendly with Konstantin Somov, whose creative motives appeared in Sudeikin’s works s well. Romantic themes so favored by Konstantin Somov and other artists of the “World of Art” group frequently got lubok (popular print) interpretation with elements of grotesque and theatricalization in Sudeikin’s works. The theater, ballet, and Italian comedy became subjects of his works.

He assisted V. Meyerkhold in arranging the theatre House of Interludes (1910-1911), and painted walls of the theater-cabaret Vagrant Dog in 1911. In 1915 he created decorative panels for the Halt of Comedians theatre.

In 1913 Sudeikin participated as a stage artist in the famous Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons (aka Ballet Russes) in Paris.

Sudeikin moved to Crimea in 1917 and then to Tiflis in 1919. In 1920 he left for Paris. In emigration theater work remained his major activity. In France Sudeikin cooperated with N. Baliev and his cabaret "The Bat", as well as “Russian Opera” and Apollo Theater, and created scenery for the ballet Sleeping Beauty staged by Anna Pavlova’s troupe. After moving to the USA in 1923 Sudeikin worked a lot for the Metropolitan Opera, collaborated with the troupes of Mikhail Fokin and George Balanchine, and painted scenery for the movie Sunday (based on Leo Tolstoy 's novel) released in Hollywood in 1934-1935.

In the last years of his life Sergei Sudeikin suffered from a serious illness. He died in New York in August, 1946.


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