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David Burliuk – The Father Of Russian Futurism
 
David Davidovich Burliuk was born in Semyrotivka in the Kharkov Governorate of the Russian Empire (now Ukraine), to a family descended from Ukrainian Cossacks who used to hold high positions in the Hetmanate. 
 
From 1898 to 1904 he studied at the art schools in Kazan, Odessa, and later at the Royal Academy in Munich, founding the now famous literary group Hylaea. His exuberant, extroverted character was immediately apparent to all around him, sometimes helping him, sometimes being an obstacle... In 1913 he was expelled from the Academy and had to return home, to the Russian empire, where he settled in the Ural mountains and immediately founded a publishing venture based on Hylaea, soon publishing his book The Support of the Muses in Spring, with illustrations by Lentulov.
 
Burliuk was co-author of the manifesto A Slap in the Face of Public Taste (1912), which would later be considered the start of Russian Futurism, a movement of Russian poets and artists who adopted the principles of Filippo Marinetti's more well known "Futurist Manifesto".
 
In 1917 he participated in an exhibition with the group Jack of Diamonds in their salon in Moscow, an exhibition attended by such personalities as Aleksandra Ekster and Kazimir Malevich. He became a leader and one of the most radical Futurists in the empire being torn to pieces by war; later, after his death, he would be recognized as the father of Russian Futurism. 
 
The next year, after receiving the news about the death of his brother Wladimir in the World War I trenches, and with the breakout of the bloody and destructive Russian Civil war, he decided to move to the safer America.
 
Because of the political situation and his nature, easily attracted by everything new, the trip took him to the Far East, Japan (where he spent a year, studying traditional art), Canada and only then United States, and lasted nearly four years!
 
Despite receiving public recognition, fame and critical acclaim in his new homeland, David never relinquished the thought of someday returning to his beautiful Ukraine, the land of his ancestors.
 
In 1940, he even petitioned the Soviet government to allow him a visit to his homeland, offering in exchange sizeable collection of unique and original materials pertaining to his close friend and colleague Vladimir Mayakovsky, plus over 100 of his best paintings! All of Burliuk's pleas were left unanswered... 
 
It would be years later, in 1956 and 1965, that he was finally allowed to visit the Soviet Union by the Communists, who saw in him "a perversion of visual art" and a potential harmful influence of the decaying West on Soviet people.
 
He died at age 85 in his home in Hampton Bays, New York.
 
Sources:
 'About David Burliuk' – biography from the Futurism and After: David Burliuk, 1882–1967 
Victor Terras, Handbook of Russian Literature (Yale University Press, 1990), s.v. "Hylaea"

 


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