Larionov, Mikhail Fedorovich

Larionov, Mikhail Fedorovich


Born May 22 (June 3), 1881, near Tiraspol’, Moldavia; died May 10, 1964, in Fontenay-aux-Roses, France. Russian painter, graphic artist, and stage designer.

Larionov studied at the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture from 1898 to 1910 under A. Serov and I. I. Levitan. From 1902 to 1906 he worked in the late impressionist style—for example, Lilac Bush in Flower (1904, Tret’iakov Gallery). He visited Paris in 1906, and, influenced by fauvism and naïve art (that is, lubok, or cheap popular prints, and commercial signs), began painting in the primitivist manner in 1907. With a precise line and richly decorative coloring, he painted harshly grotesque scenes from provincial and military life—for example, Soldier at Rest, 1911, and Spring, 1912 (both in the Tret’iakov Gallery).

In the early 20th century, Larionov and N. S. Goncharova began organizing exhibitions by Moscow’s “leftist” artists, including the groups Jack of Diamonds (1910), The Donkey’s Tail (1912), and Target (1913). The contradictions in his art led him to create rayonism (luchizm) in 1911. One of the first examples of abstract art, it proved to be a dead end as an artistic system. In the second decade of this century, Larionov did illustrations for the futurist poets, including Pomade by Kruchenykh, published in 1912.

After 1915, living in Paris, he designed decor and costumes for S. P. Diaghilev’s ballet company: two of his productions were Liadov’s Russian Tales (1916, with Goncharova) and Prokofiev’s Joker (1921). He returned to his earlier painting style, creating intimate genre paintings and still lifes.


Luchizm. Moscow, 1913.


Istoriia russkogo iskusstva, vol. 10, book 2. Moscow, 1969. Pages 38, 104, 125–30.
Sarab’ianov, D. “Primitivistskii period ν tvorchestve Mikhaila Larionova.” Russkaia zhivopis’ kontsa 1900-x - nachala 1910-x godov. Moscow, 1971.
George, W. Larionov. Paris, 1966.