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David Davidovich Burliuk

 (1882 - 1967)
David Davidovich Burliuk was active/lived in New York / Russian Federation, Ukraine, China.  David Burliuk is known for modernist landscape, still life and figure painting.

David Davidovich Burliuk

Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for David Davidovich Burliuk
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."

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*.  "But Burliuk's early work in pre-revolutionary experimental art was his most creative."

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

*For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary at

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for David Davidovich Burliuk
The following information has been provided by Anthony Capodilupo, who with associates, is preparing a Catalogue Raisonne of the work of David Burliuk.

1.   His early Russian period up to 1918.
2.   From 1918 - 1922, which was spent in Japan, Siberia and Canada.
3.   From 1922 - 1941, the New York period.
4.   From 1940s - 1960s in Hampton Bay / Long Island.
1.   Early impressionism
2.   Embryonic abstract
3.   Futurism
4.   Cubism
5.   Expressionism
6.   Folk symbolism [Lubok influence]
7.   Realism
8   Symbolism
9   Radio style
10  Fauvism

In many of his works, he incorporated two or more styles in a single painting. Also, Burliuk had a habit of repeating some of his early works, often 20-30-40 years later, as he memorized many of the paintings that he did whilst still in Russia and couldn't bring with him to the USA.

Slightly confusing for a laymen is that for some reason, Burliuk dated those new versions with the date that he painted the originals.

Burliuk was unique in that he was one of the rare artists who introduced many different styles into a single work with the intention of creating a look and composition that is absolutely balanced.
Landscapes with no figures
Modern Compositions
Complex cubist - futuristic subjects
Russian scenes with peasants
Still life (the sea)
Still life  (interiors)
Portraits, often of his wife Marusca
Portraits of friends
Interiors with samovar(s) and cat(s)
Balalaika players
Harbor scenes
Town scenes 
Views from various countries                
Burliuk used all types of materials, especially with his more modern abstract works, when he often used old pieces of wood and metal objects.
The majority of time, he used small artist canvas boards for his Russian style subjects and for the larger paintings, especially still life, he favored burlap and canvases. In some cases he would use wooden panels and masonite boards.
His early signatures are in Cyrilic with the letter 'U' written in Russian as I-O- Burliok. There are some signed just Burlik.
His Latin alphabet signatures are distinct with exaggerated letter 'L' usually slightly longer at the top or the lower end, below the rest of the letters.
Usually, the signatures are in red, black, white and sometimes red and white together and in very thick layer.
Burliuk sometimes named the places he painted together with the signature on the lower left or lower right side of the painting, and also the dates.
Only on rare occasions he signed or inscribed on the back of the artist boards or panels.

Burliuk often used very thick impasto paint; in some cases, on his larger works, if one stands to the side of the painting, it almost looks like a relief. Occasionally he would use a palette knife but most of the time, favored the brush, probably medium and large sizes and applied with zest and boldness. There is always certain spontaneous fluidity in his oeuvre.
However there are many of his works which are painted with a thinner and softer palette, and though his choice of colors is usually strong and vivid, some of the landscapes, with no figures, are softer and with pastel tones.



Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for David Davidovich Burliuk
 David Davidovich Burliuk

During the 1940s and early 50s there was group of painters who lived and worked in New York City and were socially connected, regularly meeting to discuss and argue their art and their artistic vision.

Amongst them were David Burliuk, Archille Gorky, Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, John Graham,Milton Avery, Adolph Gotlieb and many others. Rothko and Burliuk often went to the Russian club for a drink, and to have good arguments about Art.

Burliuk also participated with some of these artists in various group exhibitions, for example,’ The Ten’ in 1940 and the ACA Gallery.

What this group had in common, apart from art, was that they all had East European roots.

Jackson Pollock was frequent visitor at Burliuk's country house in the Hamptons, as they were neighbors, and he was at the Burliuk house a few nights before Pollock's tragic death. There was also a large artist colony around Hampton Bay during 1940-50s, who often came to see Burliuk,as his door was always open.

It might seem strange now but David Burliuk was, at that time, the most important and most successful member of the group and as such, often purchased artworks from others artist who were struggling.

Avery, Graham and Gorky painted portraits of David Burliuk and also his wife Marussia.

It is well recorded that Archille Gorky, a really close friend of David, committed suicide in 1948 as it was such a struggle for him to make a living from his art.

That suicide sent Barnett Newman into a deep depression as he and Gorky were close friends, and also found very hard to sell any paintings until early 1960.

As David Burliuk was not only a painter, but a generous patron and lover of art, he also bought works from the Soyer brothers, Nikolai Fechin, Cikovsky, Konchalovsky and many other lesser known artists.

Hence the Burliuk family has a large collection of art from many artists of this period.

My grandfather owned and lived with his family in a large house in Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn until 1954.

In 1982 for David Burliuk Centenary year, Russian government issued a special stamp in his memory as one of the greatest Russian artists of all time.

In Russian poetry, Burliuk is regarded as a trailblazer. In 1990, the Russian Academy of Futurist Poetry established the David Burliuk Prize (Otmetina) for experimental poetry, awarded annually.

In 2009 the Russian State organized a large exhibition of American Artists from the Russian Empire; the exhibition was part of a series devoted to the Art of Russian Emigres. Amongst the artists represented were the works of David Burliuk, Mark Rothko, John Graham, Arshille Gorky, Max Weber and Nikolai Fechin.

It was a perfect epitaph for old friends united one more time with their masterpieces which will live on.

Source:  Mary Burliuk Holt, grand daughter of David Burliuk  (Updated 2018)

Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for David Davidovich Burliuk
MEMBER: The Hamptons Bays Art Colony. Established before the start of WW II by fellow fauvist, David D. Burliuk, it was a summer art colony away from the rat race of nearby New York City.

Burliuk bought a small house in early 1941 in a quiet area in the East End still easily accessible to New York City. Soon Nicolai Cikovsky joined him as did other Russian émigrés, brothers Raphael and Moses Soyer. Moses bought a house on the same street, Squiretown Road, while his brother Raphael Soyer and Cikovsky took residences in North Sea.

Burliuk led the group because he was the oldest member and because his property included a gallery for all. Consequently the group congregated at Burliuk's place; it became their salon.

A photo of the Hamptons Bays Art Colony members posing (Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company) had this caption:  "Standing, from left, in 1952, Nat Werner, Moses Soyer, David Burliuk and George Constant; in front, Raphael Soyer, left, and Nicolai Cikovsky."

Submitted by Mark Grove

Biography from the Archives of askART

Information, 2/4/2003, from Ed Dannenburg of New York City:

Founder Member "Die Blaue Reiter" and "Sturm" with Picasso, Kandinsky 1910--14

From 1923 exhibited Brooklyn Museum, Sesquicentennial Philadelphia 1926
One man show at Gallerie Maeght, Paris 1962

Became a USA citizen in 1930

1963 One-man Show at ACA Gallery, 63 E. 57th St. NYC

Biography from Neal Auction Company
David Davidovich Burliuk was born into a wealthy Ukrainian family and received art training in Odessa, Munich, Paris and Moscow. Eventually expelled from the Moscow School of Painting for embracing Futurism, he is now considered one of Russia’s most important Avant-Garde artists.

His early influences were Fauvism, Cubism, Futurism and ancient Scythian design elements, all with an emphasis on boldness of color. After the Revolution of 1917, he immigrated to the United States in 1922. The change in countries also resulted in a change in his artistic style.

Burliuk began to focus on landscapes painted in what he termed “Radio Style,” blending symbolism, neo-primitivism and expressionism with his love of color, strong texture and spontaneity. Many of these works focus on people living a simple existence in an almost pre-industrial world, achieving a soft quietness despite his use of impasto and vivid color.

Active in Florida both before and after World War II, Burliuk worked with the Maitland Art Center, founded by fellow artist Jules Andre Smith.

“Futurism and After”. Website of Ukrainian Museum of Art. Accessed Mar. 11, 2019; Libby, Gary R. Reflections: Paintings of Florida. Daytona Beach, FL: The Museum of Arts and Sciences, 2009.

Biography from LewAllen Galleries
Considered the "Father of Russian Futurism" and one of the leading figures of the Modernist avant-garde, David Burliuk is experiencing an enormous resurgence of interest and critical attention forty years after his death.

As painter, poet and writer of manifestos, Burliuk was a central figure in the intellectual and artistic avant-garde of early 20th century Russia. He was inspired by revolutionary Western European art movements ranging from Impressionism and Post-Impressionism to Fauvism, Cubism, German Expressionism, Italian Futurism and Symbolism, but also by the Orthodox religious icons and naive folk art of Russia and his birthplace, the Ukraine. Art movements to which he contributed include Russian Neo-Primitivism (1908-12), an infusion of Fauvist color and Expressionist brushwork into landscapes and portraits inspired by folk art; Rayonism (1912-14), a synthesis of Cubist configurations of space and Futurist representations of speed and dynamism; and Cubo-Futurism (1913-14), a blend of Neo-Primitivist subjects and Cubist or Futurist style.

Burliuk participated in the foundational exhibition of Moscow's influential "Jack of Diamonds" group in 1910 and also in its subsequent shows, together with not only Russian artists - Chagall, Kandinsky, and Malevich among others - but also foreign celebrities including Picasso, Matisse, Braque and Derain. He also exhibited in Munich in 1911 with the international Der Blaue Reiter group that included Kandinsky, Jawlensky, Franz Marc and Paul Klee, and contributed an essay to the first volume of the Blaue Reiter group's Almanac. As a poet, he was co-author of the Russian Futurist manifesto, A Slap in the Face of Public Taste (1913).

Born in the Ukriane in 1882, he enjoyed access to a high degree of education, with periods of study in Kazan, Odessa, Munich, Paris, and Moscow. His participation in the avant-garde spirit of the times led to his expulsion from the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture in 1914. Burliuk fled Russia in 1918 during the Bolshevik revolution and spent the next four years in Siberia and then Japan. He was court painter to the Japanese emperor from 1920 to 1922 and very well received there. However, anticipating war with Russia, the Japanese government requested that he leave in 1922.

He then immigrated to New York and developed his "Radio" style, a dynamic and innovative blend of Symbolism, Neo-Primitivism and Expressionism, so called in reference to the advent of radio and its ability to make available a variety of cultures. Burliuk's critical acceptance in the New World came in 1923 with a major exhibition of his paintings at the Brooklyn Museum and soon thereafter a solo show at the Société Anonyme - the first museum of experimental modern art - established in New York by Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Katherine Dreier.

In 1939, after experiencing increasing success as a writer, editor and painter, he moved his family from the Lower East Side to Hampton Bays, Long Island. He traveled again to Europe which prompted a series of pictures inspired by Van Gogh and by 17th century Dutch painters such as Pieter Brueghel the Younger. With his wife, Marussia, he collected modern art and published an art magazine called Color and Rhyme (1937-66). In addition to Cubo-Futurist and Symbolist paintings, he continued creating delightful, proto-naive paintings, depicting the American landscape as well as the Russian countryside of his memories.

Burliuk died in 1967 and that same year was honored posthumously by induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His work is in the collections of such prestigious museums as the Guggenheim, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Whitney; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum; the Phillips Collection; the Smithsonian American Art Museum; The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg; the Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid; and the National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto.

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About  David Davidovich Burliuk

Born:  1882 - Kharkov, Ukraine
Died:   1967 - Northampton, New York
Known for:  modernist landscape, still life and figure painting