David Burliuk

artist artwork
David Burliuk (1882 1967)

David Burliuk was a central figure in the history of the Russian avant-garde movement as an accomplished poet, art critic, and exhibition organizer."He was one of the world's first hippies, and painted the words 'I Burliuk' on his forehead and stood on street corners reciting poetry."

David Burliuk was the eldest of six children in the family of David Feodorovich Burliuk, an estate manager, and Ludmila Josifovna, nee Mikhnevich. Besides David, his brother Vladimir and sister, Ludmila, have also become artists, and their brother Nikolai - a poet. They were all talented, but David felt himself first as the leader who stimulated the creative energy of those surrounding him. He was born into a privileged class of Russian society. His wife was educated with the Czar's children, and he was well positioned to become an artistic leader.Burliuk studied at the Kazan School of Fine Arts in 1898, and then studied in Odessa, Moscow, Munich, and in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.His early works were fauve-like, "violent in color and heavy with paint" and were exhibited with the Blue Riders in Munich.

In Russia, as a breaker of artistic tradition, he was expelled in 1911 from the Moscow Institute.With other futurists, he undertook a public campaign with lectures, journals and films--all focused on the craziness of modern, industrial life.

With the advent of World War I, he left Russia and traveled for four years including to Siberia, Japan, and the South Seas.To start all over again, he moved to America in 1922 and settled on Long Island where he continued to paint until his death there in 1967.

His subjects range from neo-primitive paintings to peasant life in Russia to futurist depictions of South Sea fishermen.Much of his painting in Russia vanished in the Russian Revolution.Throughout his life, Burliuk was innovative, energetic and upbeat. In the United States, he developed his "radio style", a style that involved symbolism, neo-primitivism, and expressionism. " Burliuk's early work in pre-revolutionary experimental art was his most creative." Burliuk's American period had almost nothing in common with his Russian period. It was certainly not Futurism and not classical Avant-garde. Yet at the same time it was not Naturalism and certainly not Realism in the full sense. His scenes with cows, horses, men and womenfolk, and all of his canvases are textural, like in his early works. He created his own picturesque world of the benign, simple existence led by common people, with their genuine joie de vivre. May be this was the way he expressed his dream of a harmonious future for mankind, which he named Futurism.