The text is taken from The Russian experiment in art, 1863-1922. Gray, Camilla.

Born in Moscow in 1883 and left an orphan in 1896, he went to live in Saint Petersburg. He had begun drawing at an early age, but did not pass the examination for the Academy of Art in 1902, when he first tried. However, a generous academician (Lev Dmitriev-Kavkazsky) taught him privately for five years. In 1908 he entered the Academy at last, but had a disturbed career, being expelled after two years, and then reaccepted. In 1910 he finally left the Academy and became a foundation-memeber of the "Union of Youth" Russian Futurists organization. Until 1914, Filonov was a constant if retiring memeber of this Futurist movement, and contributed illustrations to the early publications: as we have seen, he designed the backcloth, with Iosif Shkolnik, for Mayakovsky's first play, Vladimir Mayakovsky. Filonov saw active service during the war, although he continued to paint during this time. After the Revolution, which Filonov greeted with the enthusiasm of all these Futurist artists, he began to work out his method of "Analytical Painting". By 1925 he had attracted a numerous following and in that year set up a school under this name in Petrograd which continued until 1928 when all private artistic groups and organizations were dissolved. Filonov's painting is of an extraordinary delicacy and sensitivity of touch. One has the impression of watercolor from many of his oil-paintings, si fine and light are his brushstrokes. This fantastic technique was obtained through a fanatical devotion to his work - he would work eighteen hours a day on his paintings, which were minutely worked out in detail before being started on the monumental finished scale. Filonov's work can be related more to Paul Klee than to any other contemporary artist. There is the same interest in children's art and in the art of the insane; in both artists' work one's eye wanders among the various events within the frame; like a story or a journey, one gradually discovers the pattern and meaning in pictures which have no immediate formal unity. There is little likelihood of any actual link between these artists, however, for Klee did not send to any of the Russian exhibitions to which the older "Blaue Reiter" and "Die Brucke" members contributed; Filonov read little and never left his country. He lived as he died, in circumstances of great courage and heroism, during the siege of Leningrad in the Second World War.



Red italics highlightes the complete misunderstanding of Analytical Art, in which any sketches were forbidden, and the painting could not possibly be worked out before being started on the bigger scale, since it would be against the very essence and every principle of the Analytical Art. Comparison to Paul Klee is also based purely on the visual similarity of their work, the processes these artists used had nothing in common. Numerous other artists were intersted in the art of children (Picasso etc) and insane (the beginning of the 20th century is when psychoanalysis emerged), but only Filonov developed an artistc method of safely employing subconsciousness in creative process. Filonov did leave his country — he traveled in Austria, Italy and France.

It is unfortunate how little actual scholarship has been undertaken with respect to the Analytical Art movement and Filonov himself. The depth of misunderstanding is apparent from the above quote.

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