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 Nikolay Punin

Born:   November 28 [O.S.December 11] 1888
Deceased:   August 21, 1953

Art historian, art critic


Nikolay Punin was born in 1888 in Helsingfors (Helsinki).
He was a graduate of the Tsarskoye Selo gymnasium of 1907. From 1913 till 1916 he was a contributor of the Apollo magazine, for the sake of which he even had to leave his university career.

In 1913-1934 he worked in the Russian Museum and after the revolution was a commissioner at the Russian Museum and the State Hermitage Museum. In 1918 — 1919 he served in the People's Commissariat for Education. In 1927 he headed a branch and created an exposition of the latest art trends in the Russian Museum.

In 1934, however, he was dismissed from the museum. He was the deputy director of the Leningrad State Institute of Art Culture (GINHUK) and later the professor of the Leningrad State University and the Painting, Sculpture and Architecture Institute of the All-Russian Academy of Arts. Nikolay Punin is known as the author of the books Japanese Engraving (1915), Andrey Rublyov (1916), and Tatlin (1921). The year 1920 saw the publication of his book Modern Art (a series of lectures), in 1927 — 1928 his book The Latest Trends in Russian Art saw the light, and in 1940 his textbook on the history of the West European art was published.

In the 1930s the art historian Punin was arrested with regard to the case of “Petrograd Combat Organization”. His partner wife Anna Akhmatova immediately went to Moscow and with the help of Boris Pasternak managed to transfer an application to the Kremlin, and as a result Punin was released. He was repressed in 1949 — 1953 and died in a prison in Vorkuta.

Later Nikolay Punin was posthumously rehabilitated.

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