Russian–French painter of Italian descent. He was born in Kuokkala (later renamed Repino after Ilya Repin), near St Petersburg, and studied in Paris (at the Académie Julian and elsewhere), 1910–12. After returning to St Petersburg he became a member of avant-garde circles that included Larionov, Malevich, and Tatlin. Pougny came from a well-off family, and his wife, the painter Kseniya Boguslavskaya (1892–1972), was an heiress; their wealth enabled them to finance avant-garde activities, including two major Futurist exhibitions in St Petersburg (at this time known as Petrograd): ‘Tramway V: The First Futurist Exhibition of Paintings’ (1915) and ‘0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings’ (1915–16). The second exhibition was originally intended to be called ‘0–10’ (Zero-to-Ten) rather than 0.10 (Zero-point-Ten), but the latter form came about through a printing error in the catalogues and posters. The exhibition showed for the first time the Suprematist paintings of Malevich and the corner-reliefs of Tatlin, so marking a radical new development in Russian avant-garde art. ‘The name of the exhibition referred to a new beginning…as Malevich wrote…in May 1915, “we intend to reduce everything to zero…[and] will then go beyond zero.” It was to be the last Futurist exhibition, the end of Western European domination of the Russian avant-garde, and the beginning of a new age’ (Altshuler, The Avant-Garde in Exhibition, 1994). At the time of these exhibitions Pougny himself was producing work in both Cubist and Suprematist veins. After the Revolution, he was given a teaching position at the reorganized Academy of the Fine Arts in Petrograd, but in 1919 he left Russia. He went first to Finland and then Berlin, where he exhibited at the Sturm Gallery and with the Novembergruppe. In 1923 he settled in Paris, where he abandoned his abstract and Cubist styles and painted mainly still-lifes and interiors in a late Impressionist manner, not unlike that of Vuillard. He became a French citizen in 1946.
From A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art in Oxford Reference.