Born in Russia, Serge Poliakoff (Russian, 1990–1969) was a Paris-based painter associated with the European expressionist Taschisme movement and the CoBrA group. Poliakoff fled his home city of Moscow during the Russian Revolution in 1917, and made his way from Constantinople to Paris over the course of six years, supporting himself by playing the guitar. In Paris, he attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, where he worked in a traditionally academic style.

On a 1935 trip to London, however, he encountered the abstractions of Egyptian art and, influenced by the work of Wassily Kandinsky (1866–1944), Robert Delaunay (1885–1941), and Otto Freundlich (1878–1943), developed his own style of abstract painting featuring interlocking areas of color. In the 1940s, his palette was confined to variegated shades of grey and black, while in the 1950s, he expanded his selection to include bright colors. By the 1960s, Poliakoff was an established painter and earned an entire room in the 1962 Venice Biennial. At the end of his life, he suffered health troubles, leading to the production of smaller scale paintings and lithographs. He died in Paris in 1969.

Timeline

1900
Born in Moscow
1933
Académie Frochot Paris
1935–1937
Slade School of Art London, England
1947
Kandinsky Award
1956
Lissone Award
1965
Tokyo Biennal, International Award
1966
Menton Biennal, Grand Prize
1969
Died in Paris

Exhibitions

1974
Retrospective, Fabre Museum Montpellier, France
1971–1972
Exposition Poliakoff, Tel-Aviv Museum Tel-Aviv, Israël
1969
Retrospective, Despiau-Wlerick Museum Mont-de-Marsan, France
1969
Galleria del Naviglio Venice, Italy
1968
Retrospective, Maison de la Culture de Caen Caen, France
1966
Retrospective, Saint-Gall Museum
1963
Retrospective, Whitechapel Art Gallery London, England
1962
Biennale de Venise, Venice, Italy
1961
Efteraars-Udstilligen, Palais Charlottenborg Copenhagen, Danemark
1958
International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting, Carnegie Institute Pittsburgh, PA
1958
50 ans d'Art Moderne, Brussels, Belgium
1946
Centre des Recherches Paris, France
1945
Salon de Réalités Nouvelles, Paris, France