Collection inventory

Special Collections home page

David Burliuk Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: --
Date: ca. 1970?

Biographical History

David Davidovich Burliuk (1882-1967) was a Russian-American painter and author. Born on July 27, 1882 in Tambov, Russia, the eldest son of a wealthy peasant, he received a fine education at several gymnasiums where he advanced quickly, mastering most subjects with ease. His subsequent enrollment in the art school at Kazan proved to be the beginning of a long, distinguished career as a painter.

The turn of the century found young Burliuk amid the swirl of radical politics and the avant garde art movements which characterized Moscow in the last years of the Romanov dynasty. In 1907 he became a member of the famous Moscow Literary Circle and the Moscow Art Circle of Free Aesthetics where he met his life-long friend the poet Mayakovsky. During this period he traveled widely, lecturing on the aesthetic theories and goals of the Futurist style, thereby becoming the chief exponent of modern art in Russia. While vacationing in Odessa, Burliuk received a visit from Vasili Kandinsky, who was then organizing the first Blaue Reiter exhibition. From this visit, Burliuk developed a close association with the Blaue Reiter group with whom he exhibited. He also contributed an article, "The Wild Russian," to the group's first book.

With the outbreak of civil war in the fall of 1917, Burliuk and his wife, Marussia, fled first to Siberia, then to Japan and finally in 1922 to the United States. In 1923 he showed a number of paintings in a large exhibition held at the Brooklyn Museum, and in 1924 the Société Anonyme, of which he was a member, gave him his first one man show in America.

Though Burliuk's fellow artists recognized his ability, the public, with the exception of a few generous patrons, was slow to buy his paintings. Marussia supplemented the family's income by sewing and by 1930 was able to save enough to begin publishing an art quarterly, Color and Rhyme. During the years before World War II Burliuk continued to paint and exhibit widely. He also received many visitors at his home including Marcel Duchamp, Sergei Prokofiev, and Eisenstein, the director of the Russian film classic Potemkin. After the war the Burliuks traveled in Mexico and Europe, and in 1956 they returned for a visit to the Soviet Union. David Burliuk, who called himself "the last of the Blue Riders," continued to paint and exhibit until his death in 1967.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The David Burliuk Papers are divided into Correspondence, Memorabilia, Writings, and Miscellaneous. At least half of these materials are written in Russian and have not been translated.

The Correspondence dates from 1900 to 1967. Most of these are to Burliuk from directors of art galleries, private collectors, friends, family, and fellow artists. One item of special interest is a letter from the American novelist Henry Miller.

Memorabilia, 1915-1966, includes several scrapbooks of clippings from Russian language newspapers, genealogical data on the Burliuk family, and a number of exhibition catalogues.

Writings, dating from 1928 to 1967, consists of books, articles, and poems in various stages of draft. There are also several diaries maintained by Burliuk, and many issues of the Burliuks' magazine, Color and Rhyme. Writings by others contain information on various aspects of David Burliuk's art, the Blaue Reiter group, and particularly the development of modern Russian art.

The majority of materials in the Miscellaneous section are either of minor interest or are unidentifiable as belonging to another group. The folder of financial records, however, is interesting as a limited source of information on the purchases and sales connected with Burliuk's career as an artist.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence written in English, and those few in Russian with transliterated signatures, are arranged alphabetically by the last name of the sender. The remainder of the items in Russian are organized chronologically. Memorabilia is subdivided by subject or form and arranged alphabetically. Writings are divided by author, arranged alphabetically, then subdivided by form.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Burliuk, David, 1882-1967 -- Archives.
Burliuk, Marussia.
Miller, Henry, 1891-1980.
Parker, Dorothy, 1893-1967.

Corporate Bodies

Blaue Reiter.

Associated Titles

Color and rhyme.


Art, Modern -- 20th century.
Artists -- United States.
Painters -- United States.
Painting, Modern -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Exhibition catalogs.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

David Burliuk Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of David and Marussia Burliuk, 1964-1967.

Table of Contents