David Burliuk represented a new type of an artist at the beginning of the 20th century. An artist and a poet, he wrote, created extravagant events, printed out experimental collections, and organized exhibitions. The artist claimed that he painted 16,000 paintings. He started out as an impressionist but soon became one of the major masters of Russian avant-garde. Wassily Kandinsky called him ‘the father of Russian Futurism’ and this title, not without his own efforts, became permanent in the history of art.
The exhibition starts with his early pieces. His heritage consists of a number of impressionistic works. In a famous leaflet, ‘The Voice of an Impressionist: In Defense of Painting’ dated 1908, Burliuk stated that Impressionism was the starting point of the renovation of Russian Art.
The second part of the exhibition is dedicated to the evolution of the master towards futurism. Futurists denied Realism and everything “old in art.” Their main aim was to convey movement through painting. Futurists were shocking the public not only due to the novelty of their painting style and poetry, but also by their looks: they painted their faces and choosing provocatively bright colours to wear. The differentiating features of Burliuk’s outfits became a top hat and a monocle.
The next part of the exhibition shows the works made during his period abroad. In 1918, the painter and his family left Ufa and headed to the East, organizing exhibitions and literary evenings in many cities. In 1920, Burliuk founded himself in Japan. Van Gogh was already known here and many young Japanese painters were familiar with Futurism and Cubism. Burliuk again enjoyed his central place in the artistic life as Japanese avant-gardists welcomed the famous ‘father of Russian Futurism.’ But his main aim was America. In the USA, he created a number of his monumental Futuristic works (his painting ‘The Workers’ was restored specially for this exhibition). But he was not destined to become ‘the father of American Futurism’ because the critics did not like him. Then Burliuk decided to work out his own ‘radio-style’ which served to reflect the atmosphere of modern times with the tunes ‘can be heard in Australia and Russian heath’. But this invention too brought neither fame nor followers.
Unlike many of his avant-garde peers, Burliuk never stopped his plein-air avant-garde manner and realistic traditions in painting. He was often blamed for eclecticism and the absence of a coherent style. Nevertheless, no matter his style, he is known for his active artistic texture according to his our definition ‘thorny, shell-like, hooked, earthy’.
It is impossible to speak of Burliuk without mentioning his poetry. In a separate part of the exhibition are editions of Burliuk’s writing - the first edition of his personal draft of verse collection with original drawings from the artistic group ‘Donkey’s Tail’ and the collection ‘Milk of Mares’.
The Museum of Russian Impressionism’s exhibit attempts to highlight only the important moments in his life and work, not an entire retrospective. The exhibition features the most high quality and exemplary of Burliuk’s works from his mature, later years.