Serge Poliakoff


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(b Moscow, 8 Jan. 1906; d Paris, 12 Oct. 1969).

Russian-born painter, printmaker, and designer who settled in Paris in 1923 and became a French citizen in 1962. For many years he earned his living as a guitarist, but he began to study painting in 1930, attending various art schools, including the Slade School during a two-year stay in London, 1935–7. His early work was figurative, but after his return to Paris in 1937 he met Kandinsky and Robert and Sonia Delaunay, and under their influence he turned to abstraction. During the 1950s he gained recognition as one of the leading abstract painters in the École de Paris; his pictures characteristically feature bold irregular slabs of mat, roughly textured colour (Abstract Composition, 1954, Tate, London). He adopted an almost religious attitude towards painting, saying: ‘You've got to have the feeling of God in the picture if you want to get the big music in.’

Subjects: Art.

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