Born in Moscow on January 8, 1883, Pavel Filonov was a Russian avant-garde painter, graphic artist and poet. Filonov came from a working-class background and was orphaned in childhood. He moved to St Petersburg in 1897 and earned money through embroidery, house painting, restoring buildings, retouching photographs and making posters and wrappers for goods.
Filonov studied at the Academy of Arts, St Petersburg in 1898 but left without graduating. He was largely self-taught but Filonov also studied privately under L. E. Dmitriyev-Kavkazsky.
Filonov traveled extensively through Russia, the Near East and western Europe. Between 1910 and 1914 he exhibited often with the Union of Youth and he met and collaborated with the leaders of Russian literary Futurism, including Vladimir Mayakovsky, Velimir Khlebnikov and Aleksey Kruchonykh.
Filonov’s work was influenced by Russian folk and primitive art, Medieval Russian wall painting, Dürer, Bosch and Bruegel, Vasily Surikov, Konstantin Savitsky and by the work of the Symbolist Mikhail Vrubel.
In 1915 Filonov published the obscure poetic work with illustrations called “The Chant of Universal Flowering”. In the same year his drawings for the Futurist miscellany “Rykayushchiy Parnas” (Roaring Parnassus) reportedly caused almost the entire edition to be confiscated for indecency.
Since the mid-1960s Filonov’s work has been slowly rediscovered and his writings published. Since the mid-1980s his works have been exhibited in Russia and abroad.