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Zdanevich Ilia (Iliazd)

Ilia Zdanevich (Zaum pen name Iliazd) was  one of the prominent figures of the Georgian, Russian and French avant-garde movements; poet, writer, and publisher – the theorist of Russian Futurism and Dadaism; founder of the Tbilisi futuristic movement, discoverer of Niko Pirosmanashvili and his art and organizer of his first exhibitions, curator and fashion designer; brother of the artist Kirill Zdanevich.

Iliazd was born in Tbilisi to a Polish father and a Georgian mother. Since his childhood, he was fond of music, geography, mathematics and painting. He graduated from the Faculty of Law of St. Petersburg University. Through his artist friends, Victor Bart and Mikhaïl Le Dentu he  became close to the local avant-garde artists – Mikhail Larionov and his wife Natalia Goncharova,.

In 1911 he translated from French into Russian Marinette’s Manifesto of Futurism and got actively engaged in the promulgation of its ideas:  in parallel with his studies, he read reports on futurism in Moscow and St. Petersburg. While being  on holidays in Tbilisi  with his brother Kirill and Mikhaïl Le Dentu, he discovered the works of Niko Pirosmanashvili and, subsequently  met with him.

In 1913, he participated in organizing an exhibition of avant-garde artists in Moscow called Mishen (Target). Here Iliazd showcased the works of Pirosmanashvili.  After the exhibition he had a public engagement at a debate on contemporary art. The same year, he compiled the first catalog of the works of Larionov and Goncharova.

From August 1914, throughout the First World War, he worked  as a correspondent for the newspaper Rech  in the Caucasus.

After the end of the war, he participated in an expedition organized by Ekvtime Takaishvili to the historical southern parts of Georgia, where he measured, made plans and descriptions of a number of surviving Georgian churches.

During the times of the First Republic, together with Igor Terentiev and Alexei Kruchenykh, his friends who  had fled the Russian revolution, Ilyazd expanded his Futurist activities in Tbilisi – he founded the 41◦ Futurist Literary Union. During the same period, he wrote a cycle of futuristic Zaum dramas. All the novelties of futurism are collected in these literaty works: the Zaumian language in the style of Alexei Kruchenykh, phonetic spelling, playing with typographic sets and visual poetry. “Fiver of  actions”, as Ilyazd called it,  are considered today as  an encyclopedia of the Russian avant-garde.

After Sovietization, Ilyazd left for Paris. Before that, while in Constantinople, he wrote his best novel, Philosophy.

In Paris, Ilyazd, unlike his colleagues, did not suffered from privations  as he created fabric designs for Coco Chanel fashion house and at the same time served as the director of her  factory in a suburb of Paris . Iliazd made  friends with famous Parisian artists: Pablo Picasso, Juan Miro, Georges Braque, Alberto Giacometti, Leopold Survage – all of them at different times  illustrated  books published by him.

In 1969, at the initiative of the Soviet Union, a large exhibition of Niko Pirosmanashvili was organized in Paris. Here Iliazd saw his own collection of Pirosmani’s works which at that time, for more than  fifty years belonged  the State Museum of Art  and represented one of its main collections.

Throughout his prolific life Iliazd has published more than twenty books, many of which are the result of his literary, cultural, historical  ethnographic and geographical research.

In 1972, Iliazd published Pirosmanashvili – 1914,  which included a translation of an article he published on Pirosmanashvili in 1914 in Tbilisi, and his new article  60 Years Later,  for which Picasso painted a portrait of Pirosmanashvili in etching technique.

Iliazd died in 1975 and  was buried at the Georgian cemetery of Leuville-sur-Orge.

Biography of Iliazd by Régis Gayraud on

Kirill Korchagin on

Ilia Zdanevich (Iliazd)
Date of Birth1894Date of Death1975Share