David Burliuk was born on July 9 (July 21, new style), 1882 in khutor Semirotovshchina of Kharkov province (now Lebedinsky district, Sumskaya region). His father David Fyodorovich Burliuk was an agronomist. Mother – Lyudmila Iosifovna Burliuk, Mihnevich in girlhood, of noble birth, had a gift for art. There were three sons in the family. David – the eldest, Vladimir, Nicholai and three daughters: Lyudmila, Marianna and Nadezhda. Love for poetry, music, art was fostered in children from the early childhood. Because of father’s work the family often moved to new places, that’s why David had to study at many gymnasiums – in Sumy, Tambov, Tver. Fate bestowed on David an extraordinary life. At ten he took a fancy to painting, but the talent given by God needed perfection and young Burliuk successively, persistently studies.
In 1898-1899 he studied at Kazan and Odessa art schools.
In 1902-1905 he masters painting at Munich Royal art academy.
In 1909-1910 young poets and artists who denied the symbolism aesthetics grouped around Burliuk.They were looking for new ways of poetry and art development. Later, they will call themselves futurists. This is just the time when Burliuk and Mayakovsky met together (from 1910 Burliuk as well as Mayakovsky studies at Moscow art school of painting and sculpturing).
This is how Vladimir Mayakovsky describes his acquaintance: “…At school Burliuk appeared. Impudent looks. Lorgnette. Frock-coat. Walks crooning. I began to bully him”. Despite the quaint method of acquaintance, Burliuk one of the first discerned and appraised poetic gift of Mayakovsky who gave the following evaluation of their future strong friendship: “Excellent friend . My actual teacher. David made poet of me. Read French and German authors. Handed books. Gave me 50 copecks every day so that I should write without starving.”
In 1905-1909 Burliuk took a great interest in impressionism. By 1910 Burliuk under the influence of M. Larionov had come to neo primitivism and finally he became the ideology and ideological inspirer of Russian futurism. In 1912 together with V.Mayakovsky, A.Kruchenyh, V.Khlebnikov he issues program Manifesto of futurism: “Poshchyochina obshchestvenno-mu vkusu”. As an artist Burliuk one of the first began to use collages – pasted in pieces of plywood, gears, metallic plates in his works.
Being Europeanly educated, catching the new trends just from air, Burliuk was the catalyst at whose presence the talent of each participant of the movement flourished and developed. Excellent manager he prepared and organized the first exhibition of “Bubnoviy valet” in Moscow, the exhibition of” Zveno” group in Kiev, “Venok-Stefanos”and “Soyuz-molodyozhi” in Saint Petersburg. On the invitation of Vasily Kandinsky Burliuk participated in the exhibitions of Munich artistic group “Siniy vsadnik”. He waited for no help from anybody, he organized everything himself though in many questions he was the active co author of life. “Big, stormy Burliuk bursts into life. He is broad and gulping. He needs to know everything, to seize everything, to eat up everything. A complex figure” wrote A. Kruchenykh.
By 1919 A.Bogomazov, A.Ekster, D.Burliuk had created cubo futurism in art.
David Burliuk’s first personal exhibition took place in Samara in 1917.
The only poetical collection under astonishing title “Lyseyushchiy hvost” Burliuk published in Kurgan in 1919.”
In 1818-1820 he travelled about the Urals, Far East, Siberia. He gives lectures in the cities and writes much. From 1920 up to 1922 he lived and worked in Japan and was attracted there by the appearance of local futurism. In these years Burliuk wrote: “Futurism is not a school, it is a new world disposition”. In fact while propagating this principle he attempts to master all new styles and trends in painting. Burliuk together with his friends artists V.Palmov and V.Fiala exported futurism to Japan. In 1927 a noted art critic N.Punin visited Japan with the exhibition of Russian artists and in the letter to N. Goncharova he made out a “well known influence” of Burliuk upon the Japanese artists. Toshiharu Omuka wrote about Burliuk: “Father of Russian futurism made Japanese artists jump into the future”.
Still in Vladivostok he planned to go to America via Japan, but he didn’t have money. Finally he managed to find a patron anyhow. True, under the condition that David marries his daughter Marusya and will take her with him to the USA. The girl was not a beauty, but Burliuk agreed. The chanced marriage happened to be long and strong. Mariya Nikiforovna became not only David’s wife and the mother of his children but his friend and assistant.
In 1922 Burliuk moved to America where at the beginning of 1930-ies he obtained citizenship. In the USA he became a famous artist. He travelled much. His exhibitions took place in the best museums and galleries of America, Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Australia.
In 1939 Burliuk moved to Czechoslovakia, then to Paris. On the eve of World War II Burliuk applied to the USSR consulate-general in New York requesting his coming back to his mother country but was refused.
In 1949-1950-ies he lived and worked in South Europe, mainly in Italy.
The winters of 1946-1963 he spent in Havana where he arranged the exhibitions of his pictures. Within this period with the support of his wife Marusya Burliuk founded the magazine “Tsvet i Rifma” in New York.
His creative work was practically unknown in the USSR, though the works of David Davidovich are available in many museums of the world, worthy private collections.
So, for example, the Russian museum in Petersburg having decided to sum up the results of the past age at the end of the century offered for observation for the first time this strange, incomprehensible phenomenon – Russian futurism. Many wonderful artists who paid a homage to futurism at that time were exposed there: Natalya Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, Aristarkh Lentulov, Pavel Filonov, Alexandr Ekster, Kazimir Malevich, Nickolai Kulbin, Nadezhda Udaltsova, Elena Guro, Olga Rozanova, Beatrisa Sandomierska and others. And in the center of this constellation of names is the ideologies and motive spring of futurism David Burliuk who possessed inconceivable social temperament with keen sense of contemporaneity.
Burliuk believed: “True work of art can be compared with accumulator, which radiates energy of electric inspirations. Each work, as in the theatrical action, has a certain number of marked hours of admiring and scrutinizing it. Many works incorporate the reserves of aesthetic energy for long periods”. Thanks to private collectors the given catalogue suggests for general review the works of different periods and moods of the artist.
One of the bright and spiritually dear is the theme of Ukrainian village. Unusually pictorial works “Village life” with picturesque lithe woman giving water to calf at the well, poetic huts, mill; “Girl with a horse” – with brightly expressed greenish horse against a background of fairytale Ukrainian hut”; “Man on sledge” – in which the artist nostalgically and clearly depicted severe, for those times, winter of his far mother country. And, of course, more often than others , he painted his lovely Marusya – wife and the only woman in his life from the day when he met her. For her these wonderful poetic lines: “Your hair golden well-springs I drink from…”
In his work “Yellow rose” there is an English inscription in the foreground: “Snow. Welcome to Marusya”, and in the background David probably painted his Marusya with two pails on a yoke in a far snowed up Ukrainian village.
Brother Nikolai accidentally knocks out David’s eye in his youth years and because of this from the early period of his creative work to the extreme maturity as an artist an eye – a subject of his permanent regret occupies a special place in his paintings. As an example are his works: “Surrealistic Composition with an eye” 1939, “Symbolism” 1945. And, of course, a prominent place is occupied by the works “At the coast”, “In the dock”, “Flowers of Florida” in which the great artist used the elements of putting the distinct coloured layer – a bit from Arhipenko’s sculpture paintings – on the canvas. 45 years Burliuk lived in emigration but nevertheless he wrote such lines: “…Ukraine in my person has a true son…Ukraine was and is my motherland”.
David Davidovich Burliuk and his wife Maria Nikiforovna chanced to visit motherland at a time of Khrushchev’s thaw in 1956 and in 1965.
David Burliuk died on January 15, 1967 in the hospital on the Long Island near New York at the age of 85. His body was cremated as to his will and ashes were dispersed from the ferry-boat over the waters of Atlantic Ocean by his relatives thus realizing the dream of the great artist to come back some day forever to the shores of Ukraine.