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Survage Léopold
Painter, graphic artist At a young age Léopold Survage learned to play the piano (his father ran a piano factory). In 1897 he completed a commercial diploma. After a severe illness at the age of 22, Survage rethought his career and entered Moscow School of painting, sculpture and architecture (MUZhVZ), where he attended the workshops of K. A. Korovin and L. O. Pasternak. In 1904 and 1908 took part in the exhibitions of MUZhVZ. In 1905 some of his works were shown at the famous Golubaya Roza (“Blue Rose”) exhibition of symbolist painting, alongside works by M. F. Larionov, R. R. Falk, S. Y. Sudeikin and N. N. Sapunov.  In 1908 he immigrated to France and lived in Paris till his death. At the beginning of his stay in France, Survage worked as a piano tuner and briefly attended the classes of Henri Matisse and Filippo Colarossi. In 1910–1911 took part in the first exhibition of the group Bubnovy Valet (“Jack of Diamonds”) in Moscow. In 1911 he exhibited his works at the Cubist hall of the Salon of Independents. In 1912, encouraged by Alexander Archipenko, whom he had met a year earlier, Survage participated in the Autumn Salon in Paris. In 1912–1913 created a series of abstract compositions Coloured Rhythm which were based on the principle of moving forms (that is to say, animation-based compositions). During the World War I he lived in Nice. In 1917 the poet Guillaume Apollinaire (who, among other things, was the originator of the painter’s French-sounding pseudonym) put on Survage’s first personal exhibition at the Bougard gallery and wrote an introductory article for the exhibition catalogue. In the meantime Survage made friends with Amedeo Modigliani. The two painters started to share a studio. In 1919 Survage took part in the exhibition Modern French Painting in London. In 1920 he became one of the founders of the reborn Golden Section group, whose members were inspired by Apollinaire. In the beginning of the 1920s Survage produced his well-known cubist landscapes, which were shown at Lev Rosenberg’sGalerie de L’Effort Moderne. He created his own system of structuring the cubic perspective. While the system of rendering surfaces invented by the cubists was based on a single axis on which all the painted objects were placed, Survage created a two-dimensional cubic perspective of landscape. Aside from his painting work, he created scene and costume designs for S. P. Dyagilev’s rendition of the opera buffo Mavra by I. F. Stravinsky in 1922. In 1925 he was involved in the production of Antonio Veretti’s opera The Little Match Girl, which was staged at the Théâtre de Cagliari in Paris. In the mid-1920s Survage began to move away from Cubism in favour of the neo-classical form. In the 1920s numerous personal exhibitions of the artist were held in the US and some Western European countries. In 1928 he participated in the group exhibition Modern French Art at Moscow Western Art Museum alongside with many Russian painters who had immigrated to Paris.  In the 1930s Survage started to produce textile designs and in 1933 worked for the House of Chanel. In 1937 he created several decoration projects for the pavilions of International Exhibition in Paris. At the end of the 1930s Survage met André Masson and under his influence developed an interest in mysticism. His manner of painting underwent several changes: curvilinear geometric forms, which had been characteristic for his works back in 1910s and early 1920s, returned to his pictorial and graphic art once again. Starting in 1939 he brought into use an old way of making casein paints, which are known for preserving their color for more than two thousand years. Their transparent and lackluster hues enhanced the particular relief of his compositions. During the World War II Survage stayed in Paris and kept on painting. In 1950s–1960s he made paintings for the tapestry manufacture. In 1963 he was inducted into the Legion of Honor in France. Works by Léopold Survage can be seen in the collections of New York Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, the George Pompidou Center in Paris, the Fine Arts Museum of Lyon, the National Museum in Athens and the State Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
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