Pavel Nikolaevich Filonov (January 8, 1883 – December 3,
1941) was a Russian painter, art theorist and a poet.
Filonov was born in Moscow on January 8, 1883 (Gregorian calendar)
or December 27, 1882 (Julian_calendar). He moved to Saint Petersburg
in 1897 where he took art lessons. In 1908 he entered St. Petersburg
Academy of Arts, and was expelled in 1910.
In 1910 through 1914 he took part in the arts group Soyuz Molodezhi
created by artists E. Guro and M. Matyushin. In 1912 he wrote the
article The Canon and The Law in which he formulated the principles
of analytical realism or "anti-Cubism". According to Filonov,
Cubism represents objects using elements of their surface geometry
but "analytical realists" should represent objects using
elements of their inner soul. He was faithful to these principles
for the remainder of his life.
Holy Family 1914During the years 1913 to 1915 Filonov was close
to Mayakovsky, Khlebnikov and other Futurists. In the autumn of
1916 he enlisted for service in World War I and served on the Romanian
front. Filonov participated actively in the October Revolution and
served as the Chairman of the Revolutionary War Committee of Dunay
In 1919 he exhibited in the First Free Exhibit of Artists of All
Trends exhibition at the Hermitage. In 1923 he became a professor
of St. Petersburg Academy of Arts and a member of the Institute
for Artistic Culture (INKhUK). He organized a large arts school
of Masters of Analitical Realism (over 70 artists). Their work influenced
Suprematism and Expressionism.
In 1929, a large retrospective exhibition of Filonov art was a
planned at the Russian Museum, however the Soviet government forbade
the exhibition from going forward. From 1932 onward, he literally
starved but still refused to sell his works to private collectors.
He wanted to give all his works to Russian Museum as a gift so as
to start a Museum of Analytical Realism. He died of starvation on
December 3, 1941 during the Siege of Leningrad.
Portrait of E.N. Glebova (the Artist's Sister). 1915. Oil on canvas.
117x152.5 cm. The Russian Museum.Most of Filonov's works were saved
by his sister Evdokiya Nikolaevna Glebova. She stored the paintings
in the Russian Museum's archives and eventually donated them as
a gift. Exhibitions of Filonov's work were forbidden. In 1967 an
exhibition of Filonov's works in Novosibirsk was permitted. In 1988
his work was allowed in Russian Museum. In 1989 and 1990, the first
international exhibition of Filonov's work was held in Paris.
During the period of half-legal status of Filonov's works it was
seemingly easy to steal them, however there was a legend that Filonov's
ghost protected his art and anybody trying to steal his paintings
or to smuggle them abroad would soon die, become paralyzed, etc.