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Kirill Zdanvich
Date of Birth1892Date of Death1969Share

Zdanevich Kirill

Georgian avant-garde artist, stage designer, one of the founders of the Georgian and Russian  Cubo-Futurism, creator of “orchestral painting”, the variety of Ilya Zdanevich’s concept of “Vsyiochestvo” (everythingness).

He was born in 1892 in Kojori, Georgia. Father was of Polish descent, mother, Gamreklidze –  Georgian and belonged to the old Georgian noble family.

After graduating from Tbilisi gymnasium he studies at Fogel’s and Sklifosovsky’s classes of drawing and painting.

In 1911-1918 he went to Petersburg Art Academy.

In 1912 he became a member of the Russian Artists group “Donkey’s Tail” (“Ослинний хвост”) and participated in Neo-primitivism exhibitions together with  Mikhail Larionov, Natalya Goncharova, Vladimir Tatlin and Kazimir Malevich.

In 1912 while spending his holidays in his homeland, in Tbilisi together with his brother, Ilya Zdanevich, and Mikhail Le Dantue he discovered the paintings of Niko Pirosmanishvili and started collecting them. Later he presented these paintings to the Tbilisi State Museum of Art and wrote a monograph on Pirosmani.

In 1913 he took part in the exhibition “Mishen” (Target) together with the Larionov group. It was at this exhibition that the brothers Zdanevich and Le- Dantue first showcased  Niko Pirosmanishvili’s paintings. The exhibition was preceded by a dispute on “East, Nationality and West” where Ilya Zdanevich presented his concept of “Vsyiochestvo” for the first time.

In 1913 Kirill Zdanevich left  for Paris and arranged an exhibition at Alexander Arkhipenko’s studio.

In 1914 he is summoned to serve in the World War I as an officer at the German front.

After he had been demobilized he returned to Tbilisi which at that time was becoming  the center of the avant-garde experiments.

In 1917 his first one-man exhibition opened in Tbilisi – the first significant declaration of the leftist art in Georgia. Together with his brother, Ilya Zdanevich, he became  one of the leaders of the leftist futurism. The “Futuristic Syndicate” was founded by the brothers Zdanevich, poets Yuri Degen, Kolau Chernyavsky, Kara-Darvish, artists Lado Gudiashvili, Ziga Valishevsky, Igor Terentyev and Aleksei Kruchonikh who then fled from the revolutionary Russia and World War I to the independent Georgia. Their interest towards folklore and the primitive was obvious that made  them closer to the Moscow “Oslini Khvost”(Donkey’s Tail) .

In 1919 the syndicate closes and a new group – “41°” is established. The name of the group is chosen according to the geographical latitude of Tbilisi.

Kirill Zdanevich is one of the founders of the avant-garde book in Georgia.

He starts his radical,  Kubo-Futurist (Korney Chukovsky’s term overtly revealed in 1913), experiments in book design and typography in 1917. Collaborating with the Zaum poets he creates the entire outlook, format, text drawings of their books and often works on the text calligraphy as well. His graphic and lithographic experiments are the visual parallels to the Zaum experimental poetry – maximum transformation of an object, significance of surface and texture, maximum plasticity of the image shape not as a ”denoter” but as “denoted.”

In 1921-1923 he works in Constantinople and Paris.

After the Soviet annexation of Georgia he hopelessly awaits visa for France from his brother, but receives it only in the 1960es (see his correspondence with his brother in the Regis Geiro publication).

In 1922-36 he begins to work as a stage designer at the Opera House, Marjanishvili and Rustaveli theatres. The costume design is an independent and one of the most significant branches in his graphic art since 1914, but the works of 1922 turned into the real “Costume Theatre”.

In 1926-30 he leaves for Moscow and works at the theatres “Modern Slapstick”, “Publishing House” and “Music Hall”. Until 1933 he works at the Agricultural National Commissariat and as he himself ironically writes to his brother, takes active part in building of the USSR by painting agricultural pavilions and creating huge panels with the method of photomontage.

All this lasted until the repression period begins in the Soviet Union and almost the entire Agricultural Commissariat gets arrested. Some of its members were shot as “people’s enemies” and counter-revolutionaries. By this time Igor Terentev is already arrested too and exiled to Karelia (see the correspondence to brother).

At the end of the 1930es he returns to Tbilisi, and in 1941-43 works as a circus stage designer. In 1943 he is in Moscow working on the murals for café “National”.

From 1930s, creative activities of Zdanevich changes according to the political situation but despite this, in 1948-57 he is arrested and sent to Mordovia where he serves his sentence at Dubrava camp during 10 years. Only in 1957 he returns to Tbilisi.

In 1964 he finally receives French visa and leaves for Paris for several months. After a too long interval of 34 years he meets his brother Ilya Zdanevich.