Home Modernists Kirill Zdanevich Biography

Kirill Zdanevich (1892-1969)

Georgian avantgarde artist, stage designer, one of the founders of the Georgian and Russian so called Cubo-Futurism, creator of “orchestral painting” that is the variety in visual art of Ilya Zdanevich’s “Vsyiochestvo” (everythingness) concept.

He was born in 1892 in Kojori, Georgia. Father by birth was Polish, mother, Gamreklidze, belonged to old Georgian noble family.

From 1900, after graduating Tbilisi gymnasium he studies at Fogel’s and Sklifosovsky’s classes of drawing and painting.

In 1911-1918 he continuous his studies at Petersburg Art Academy.

In 1912 he becomes a member of the Russian Artists group “Donkey’s Tail” (“Ослиннийхвост”) and participates in its so called Neo-primitivism exhibitions together with artists Mikhail Larionov, Natalya Goncharova, Vladimir Tatlin, Kazimir Malevich, etc.

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

In 1913 he participates in the exhibition “Mishen” (shooting butt) together with the Larionov group – Goncharova, Malevich, Shagal, Shevchenko and Le-Dantyus. It was at this exhibition that the brothers Zdanevich and Le- Dantue first displayed 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 leaves for Paris and arranges 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.

In 1917 he is demobilized and returns to Tbilisi which at this time becomes the center of the avant-garde experiments.

In 1917 his first one-man exhibition opens in Tbilisi – the first significant declaration of the leftist art in Georgia. Together with his brother, Ilya Zdanevich, he becomes one of the leaders of the so called leftist futurism. The “Futuristic Syndicate” is founded by 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 is obvious that closes them 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.

The leaders of the group “41°” are the author and ideologist of the “Vsyochestvo” theory Ilya Zcdanevich together with Terentyev and the creator of “Zaum” – Kruchonikh. The founder of the “Orchestral Painting”, Kiril Zdanevich, also joins the group. The group founds its own newspaper “41°”.

Zdanevich participates in the artistic evenings of the artistic cafés “Argonauts’ Boat” and “Fantastic Tavern” where the founders of “Futurvseuchbishche” (futureverythingstudies) gave lectures. Together with Lado Gudiashvili, Aleksey Petrokovsky, Iuri Degen and Ilya Zdanevich he participates in painting the “Fantastic Tavern”. It is in this period as well that he works over murals for café “Argonauts’ Boat” too together with Bazbeuk-Malikov, Gudiashvili, Kakabadze.

(In Tbilisi the “41°” exists until 1920. After, from 1921, when after annexation of Georgia by Soviet Russia, Ilya Zdanevich immigrates to France he keep the title “41°” for his publications).

Kirill Zdanevich is one of the founders of the so called avant-garde book in Georgia. Together with the zaum poets the books created by him are discussed as “Futurist Books” what is rather tentative.

He starts his radical, so called 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 as not of a ”denoter” but as “denoted” in itself , making a free use of any means and devices, artistic methods or directions for this purpose (see the text by Sergey Kruchonikh and Eli Eganbiuri (Ilya Zdanevich) in the catalog of Kiril Zdanevich exhibition in Tbilisi in 1917). That is why he freely joins into the graphic expression of a figural verse and creates calligraphic compositions.

In 1921-1923 he works in Constantinople and Paris.

After the annexation of Georgia by the Soviets 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 and especially as a costume 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 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 over the murals for café “National”.

From 1930s the creative activities of Zdanevich changes according to the political situation but despite, 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 too long interval of 34 years he meets his brother Ilya Zdanevich.