Painter, graphic artist, sculptor, illustrator, designer. Cousin of the pianist Maria Yudina (1899–1970). Born in Vitebsk in the family of a salt-mining agent called Alexander Yudin (1903). Learnt the art of cutting silhouettes from his mother. Studied under Vera Yermolaeva, Kazimir Malevich, Janis Tilbergs and David Jakerson at the Vitebsk School of Art (1919–22). Member of UNOVIS (1920). Decorated trams, buildings and the streets of Vitebsk and Smolensk on Communist holidays (1920–21). Accompanied Kazimir Malevich and a group of other students to Petrograd (1922). Studied at the VKhUTEIN in Petrograd (1922–23). Worked under Kazimir Malevich at the formal and theoretical department of the Institute of Artistic Culture (1923–26) and the Institute of the History of the Arts (1926–27). Member of the Group of Painterly-Plastic Realism, which met at his room in a wooden house on Shamshev Street on the Petrograd Side and at Vera Yermolaeva’s apartment on the 10th Line of Vasilyevsky Island (1927–34). Helped Vera Yermolaeva to design the poster advertising the Three Left Hours at the House of Printing in Leningrad (1928). Collaborated with the Hedgehog and Siskin children’s magazines (1928), illustrated Alexander Vvedensky’s Who? (1930).
Married the artist Maria Gorokhova (1903–1991) and had a son called Alexander (1932). Joined the Union of Artists (1932). Designed Surrealist labels for powder compacts (1935) and created a series of paper sculptures intended to exist only in photographs (1935). Took up engraving under the influence of Dmitry Mitrokhin (late 1930s–early 1940s). Killed on active service at Ust-Tosno during the Second World War (1941). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1920). Contributed to the UNOVIS exhibitions in Vitebsk (1920, 1921) and in the Cézanne Club at the VKhUTEMAS in Moscow (1921, 1922), Die erste russische Kunstausstellung in the Galerie Van Diemen at 21 Unter den Linden in Berlin (1922), Exhibition of Pictures of Petrograd Artists of All Directions in Petrograd (1923), Artists of the RSFSR Over Fifteen Years in Leningrad (1932) and Moscow (1933), First Exhibition of Works by Leningrad Artists at the Russian Museum in Leningrad (1935) and posthumous one-man shows at the Tsarskoe Selo Collection Museum in Pushkin (2003) and the Museum of the Petersburg Avant-Garde in St Petersburg (2009).
In Russia, history is too important to leave to the historians. Great novelists must show how people actually lived through events and reveal their moral significance. As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn explained in his 1970 Nobel Prize lecture, literature transmits “condensed and irrefutable human experience” in a form that “defies distortion and falsehood. Thus literature . . . preserves and protects a nation’s soul.”
The latest Solzhenitsyn book to appear in English, March 1917, focuses on the great turning point of Russian, indeed world, history: the Russian Revolution.1 Just a century ago, that upheaval and the Bolshevik coup eight months later ushered in something entirely new and uniquely horrible. Totalitarianism, as invented by Lenin and developed by Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others, aspired to control every aspect of life, to redesign the earth and to remake the human soul. As a result, the environment suffered unequaled devastation and tens of millions of lives were lost in t…