David Burliuk was a Ukrainian painter who was a member of the Russian Futurist school.As well as producing his paintings, Burliuk was an accomplished illustrator of books as well as being a publicist with some reputation.
Burliuk was born on July 21, 1882 in the small settlement of Semyrotivka, close to the village of Riabushky. His family ancestry contained Cossacks who had held high office in the Hetmanate State of two centuries earlier. His brother, Volodymyr, also became an artist, although not one of comparable renown.
David was sent to Kazan’s art school in 1898, following his studies there with a period at the larger school in Odessa, and finally at Munich’s prestigious Royal Academy.
He married his wife, Marussia, only after having employed her as his model on a number of occasions. He was dismissed from the academy in 1913.
During the revolutionary years 1917-1920, he traveled to Siberia, where he gave Futurist concerts and sold his art. From 1920 to 1922 he spent time in Japan painting, organizing exhibitions, and promoting Futurism.
In 1922, he emigrated to the United States, gaining U.S. citizenship eight years later. Burliuk was initially denied permission to visit family in the USSR, but the Soviet government relented in later years, allowing him to make two short trips.
He lived in New York City from 1922 to 1941, and then in Hampton Bays, Long Island till his death on January 15, 1967. David Burliuk was honored posthumously by being inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Burliuk’s exuberant style was noted at a young age: his teacher in the Munich academy, Anton Azhbe, referred to his character as “wonderful” and “wild.” Although his style did evolve as he grew older, he always maintained a liking for bold, vivid colors and strong, forceful texturing in his works. Many of these concentrated on depicting the pleasures of a relatively simple, almost pre-industrial world. This contrasted with his avant-garde, futuristic style to create a startling clash of cultures.
Although Burliuk was skilled in a wide range of styles and artistic forms, he often favored a straightforward approach that included painting directly from his tubes, rather than employing a palette on which he could mix his paints. As well as this style, which was used for strong impasto pieces, Burliuk also created more subtle portraits as well as scenes showing the human form placed within a larger, often simply rustic, landscape.
He was, in the end, a worshiper of the earth’s abundance and glory as much as a Futurist scandalizer of public taste. It is not surprising that one of his favorite artists was Vincent van Gogh, whose impassioned vision of nature, tendered with brilliant color and vigorous stroke, Burliuk admired greatly.
Burliuk’s deep involvement in the world also manifests itself in his important works focused on ideological, philosophical themes dealing with war and the human condition.
Today, Burliuk’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, among others..