Study for landscape - IVAN PUNI
Study for landscape (Puni)

Ivan Puni (Kuokkala, now Repino, Russia 1892 – Paris 1956)

Ivan Puni was a Russian painter and graphic artist who actively furthered the early (prewar) development of the Russian avant-garde and whose origins were Italian. He was the grandson of an eminent Italian composer of ballet music, Cesare Pugni. His father, a cellist, insisted that he follow a military career, but Ivan instead decided to take private drawing lessons with Ilya Repin. By 1909, he had his own studio. Puni continued his formal training in Paris in 1910–11 at the Académie Julien and other schools. He discovered Cézanne and was very impressed by Cubism and Fauvism. Upon his return to Russia in 1912, he married fellow artist Kseniya Boguslavskaya, and met the leading avant-garde artists David Burlyuk, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Kazimir Malevich, Mikhail Larionov, and Velimir Khlebnikov. His apartment became a centre of contemporary art in St. Petersburg. During this period Puni, together with his wife, published the Futurist anthology Rykayushchy Parnas (1914) and, in 1915, organized the famous first Futurist exhibition, “Tramway V.” This exhibition was a panorama of Cubo-Futurism, at the forefront of which were Malevich and Vladimir Tatlin. The exhibition was received with hostility by the bourgeois press. Inspired by this response, Puni organized “0.10,” which he called the last Futurist exhibition. It proved to be a landmark in the history of the avant-garde movement, because Malevich exhibited Suprematist works for the first time. In his own painting, Puni was also drawn to creation of pure forms and experimentation in many styles: he painted Suprematist compositions and Cubist still lifes in which he integrated letters, words, and even short texts. Malevich and Puni wrote the Suprematist Manifesto, published in 1916, which proclaimed a new, abstract art for a new era.
World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917 interrupted the development of the avant-garde in Russia, but as early as 1918 Puni was taking an active part in the cultural development of the new Russia. He taught at the Petrograd State Free Art Studios and, for a short period, at the invitation of Marc Chagall, at the People’s Art School in Vitebsk. However, in late 1919 Puni and his wife emigrated from Russia, first to Finland, then in 1920 to Berlin, where the first exhibition consisting entirely of his work was held at the Galerie der Sturm. While in Berlin, Puni also designed costumes and sets for theatrical productions, and in 1922 he published Modern Art, in which he criticized Malevich’s Suprematism. In 1924 Puni moved to France and settled in Paris, where his style changed once again. He became a key figure in the city’s international art scene and he signed his works as "Jean Pougny", in an effort to distance his new art practice from his previous one in Russia. In the 1940s and 1950s, he painted in quite an intimate style à la Édouard Vuillard. In 1946, Puni/Pougny became a French citizen.

Paris, Center Georges Pompidou.
St. Petersburg, Russian State Museum
Moscow, Tret'jakov Gallery
New York, Museum of Modern Art - MoMA
Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum