Chronology of the Russian Avant-Garde 1909–1917
November 18, 2008–April 19, 2009 at the Getty Center

This timeline situates the publication of Russian Futurist books within the political and cultural context of the early Russian avant-garde.

Download PDFs of selected books mentioned in this timeline.


• "The Golden Fleece" exhibition opens in Moscow with contributions from Natalia Goncharova, Mikhail Larionov, and Henri Matisse.

• The Italian poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti publishes "The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism" in the Paris newspaper Le Figaro.

• Goncharova and Larionov's paintings, which publicly launch their Neoprimitivist style, dominate the next "The Golden Fleece" exhibition in Moscow. Their artwork appears alongside folk art, including lubki (popular prints) and icons.


• Velimir Khlebnikov's poem "Incantation by Laughter" is published in the journal Impressionist's Studio, edited by Kulbin.

• The first of seven exhibitions by the Union of Youth (an association of avant-garde artists, writers, and actors) takes place in St. Petersburg. Work by the Burliuk brothers, Goncharova, Pavel Filonov, and Larionov is displayed. A concurrent exhibition, "Triangle," is organized by Kulbin featuring his own work, and that of Kamensky and Matiushin.

A Trap for Judges, printed on the back of sheets of wallpaper, is published in St. Petersburg. It is the first collaboration involving David and Vladimir Burliuk, Elena Guro, Khlebnikov, and Kamensky.

• The last issue of the Symbolist journal The Golden Fleece appears.

• Khlebnikov and Larionov visit the Burliuk brothers' summer home at Chernianka, Southern Ukraine.

• In Moscow, Larionov organizes the first avant-garde "Jack of Diamonds" exhibition.


Millions of peasants suffer through famine over the course of the year while Russia exports grain.

• Larionov and Goncharova break with the Burliuk brothers, whom they accuse of mimicking the West. They leave to form a separate association they call Donkey's Tail.

• Russian political life is increasingly unstable; Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin is assassinated by a revolutionary terrorist and police agent.

• David Burliuk invites Benedikt Livshits to vacation with him at Chernianka, where Livshits is inspired by manuscripts of Khlebnikov's poetry left there the previous summer. The visit prompts the formation of the Russian Futurist group Hylaea. Poets such as Vladimir Mayakovsky and Kruchenykh join shortly thereafter.

• The Stray Dog cabaret opens in a St. Petersburg cellar. Until its doors close in 1915, it serves as a meeting place for Russian and European writers and artists.


Between 1912 and 1914, 9,000 worker strikes occur. Bolshevik trade unions and slogans grow.

• A second "Jack of Diamonds" exhibition organized by the Burliuk brothers opens in Moscow without the participation of Larionov and Goncharova.

• The first "Jack of Diamonds" debate on contemporary art takes place. Goncharova unexpectedly attacks the group and announces the formation of a rival group, Donkey's Tail. The debate is the first of its kind to generate significant public response and is widely reported on in the press.

• Larionov opens the first "Donkey's Tail" exhibition featuring contributions from Marc Chagall, Goncharova, Kazimir Malevich, Olga Rozanova, Alexander Shevchenko, Vladimir Tatlin, and himself.

• First issue of the journal Union of Youth is published in St. Petersburg.

• Two hundred striking workers are shot at the Lena Goldfield Massacre, sparking a year of worker unrest. The same month, the first issue of the Bolshevik workers' paper Pravda (Truth) is published.

• In Italy, Marinetti's "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature" is published.

• In Moscow, the first Russian avant-garde book, Old-Fashioned Love, is published with poetry by Kruchenykh and "ornament" by Larionov, followed by Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov's book A Game in Hell with imagery by Goncharova. Page through A Game in Hell (opens new window).

• Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh's Worldbackwards is published in Moscow with imagery by Goncharova, Larionov, and Tatlin.

• In Moscow, the Burliuk brothers, Khlebnikov, Mayakovksy, and others cause a sensation when they publish, in a miscellany of the same name, "A Slap in the Face of Public Taste," the first manifesto of Hylaea, the Russian Futurists.


This year marks the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty; Tsar Nicholas II grants amnesty to many political prisoners.

• Several avant-garde books are published, including the miscellany A Trap for Judges II in St. Petersburg, and in Moscow Kruchenykh's three books: Hermits; Hermitess:Two Poems with imagery by Goncharova; and Half-Alive, and Pomade with imagery by Larionov. Page through Pomade (opens new window).

• The third and last issue of the journal Union of Youth appears in St. Petersburg announcing the official merging of members of the Union of Youth group with the Hylaea group of Russian Futurists.

• Larionov organizes the "Target" exhibition in Moscow with contributions from Goncharova, Malevich, Shevchenko, and himself. It is the first public showcase of his new style, Rayism, and also features examples of children's drawings and signboards. Malevich contributes to the exhibition, but soon breaks with Larionov to join the Union of Youth and Hylaea Futurists.

• Violence erupts at Larionov's "Target" debate, which is closed down by the police.

• Larionov publishes his Theory of Rayism as a booklet.

• The Russian Futurists parade in Moscow with painted faces.

• Several Futurist books are published in St. Petersburg including: A Forestly Boom by Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh with imagery by Kruchenykh, Kulbin, and Rozanova; Let's Grumble by Kruchenykh with imagery by Malevich and Rozanova; Explodity (1st edition) by Kruchenykh with imagery by Goncharova, Kulbin, Malevich, and Rozanova. In Moscow, Sergei Bobrov's collection of poetry Gardener's on the Vine is published with imagery by Goncharova.

• In Moscow, Larionov's polemical manifesto "Rayists and Futurists: A Manifesto" is published in the journal Donkey's Tail and Target.

• The composer Mikhail Matiushin hosts the First All-Russian Congress of Singers of the Future (Poet-Futurists) at his dacha in Finland, where Kruchenykh, Malevich, and Matiushin make plans for the Futurist opera Victory Over the Sun.

• In Moscow, a solo exhibition of Goncharova's work from 1900–1913 features 768 objects.

• In St. Petersburg, Kruchenykh, Khlebnikov and Guro's book Threesome is published with Kruchenykh's manifesto New Ways of the Word, in which he uses the word zaumny (transrational) for the first time.

• In Moscow, The Word as Such by Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh is published with imagery by Malevich and Rozanova; the Futurist collection The Bung is published with contributions by Khlebnikov and the Burliuk brothers.

• In St. Petersburg, Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov's The Devil and the Wordsmiths, with imagery by Rozanova, is published, as is Alexander Shevchenko's manifesto Neo-primitivism.

• The last "Union of Youth" exhibition takes place in St. Petersburg with contributions from the Burliuk brothers, Filonov, Malevich, Matiushin, Rozanova, and Tatlin. It includes a posthumous exhibition of Guro's work.

• In St. Petersburg, Larionov and Ilia Zdanevich's Futurist manifesto "Why We Paint Ourselves" is published in the Christmas issue of the journal Argus.

• In St. Petersburg, Kruchenykh's second edition of Explodity is published with imagery by Goncharova, Kulbin, Malevich, and Rozanova; lithography replaces rubber-stamping from the first edition. Kruchenykh's A Duck's Nest...of Bad Words is also published with imagery by Rozanova. In Moscow, a collection of Khlebnikov's early work is published under the title Creations. Page through Explodity (opens new window).

• Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov's opera Victory over the Sun and Mayakovsky's play Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy are performed at the Luna Park theater in St. Petersburg.

• The Burliuk brothers, Kamensky, and Mayakovsky undertake their first Futurist tour of Russia. Donning outrageous attire, they give poetry readings and lectures in provincial cities.


• Khlebnikov and Kruchenykh's book Te li le is published in St. Petersburg with imagery by Kulbin and Rozanova. The Burliuk brothers' Dead Moon also appears with contributions from Kruchenykh, Khlebnikov, Livshits, and Mayakovsky.

• A small solo exhibition of Goncharova's work opens in St. Petersburg.

• Hoping to establish contact with Russian Futurists, Marinetti visits Moscow and St. Petersburg. Leading Futurists such as Kamensky, Mayakovsky and the Burliuk brothers are away, however, touring the country. While the press and members of the artistic elite treat Marinetti with admiration, Khlebnikov, Livshits, and fellow poets are hostile.

• In St. Petersburg the miscellany Futurists: Roaring Parnassus is published as well as Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov's second expanded edition of A Game in Hell, with imagery by Malevich and Rozanova. In Moscow, the collection Milk of Mares is published with contributions from Khlebnikov, the Burliuk brothers, Kruchenykh, Livshits, Mayakovsky, and Kamensky.

• David Burliuk and Mayakovsky are expelled from the Moscow Institute of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture for scandalous behavior.

• Larionov and Goncharova star in the film Drama in the Futurists' Cabaret No. 13.

• In Moscow, Mayakovsky's Vladimir Mayakovsky: A Tragedy and the only issue of Futurists: The First Journal of Russian Futurists, with contributions by Mayakovsky, the Burliuk brothers, Khlebnikov, and Kamensky, are published.

• In Moscow, Larionov organizes the exhibition "No. 4" in which Kamensky's "ferro-concrete" poetry is first displayed.

• Kamensky joins David Burliuk and Mayakovksy on a second Futurist tour of Russia.

• Larionov and Goncharova travel to Paris to design stage sets for the Ballets Russes.

• World War I breaks out following the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austrian-Hungarian throne.

• In Russia, the military mobilizes in response to Austria's declaration of war on Serbia. General strikes and political demonstrations continue in St. Petersburg.

• Britain declares war on Germany, and Germany declares war on Russia.

• Russian artists abroad, including Larionov and Goncharova, return to Russia at the outbreak of World War I.

• The Russian capital of St. Petersburg is renamed Petrograd.

• Avant-garde publications in Moscow include Goncharova's lithographic portfolio Mystical Images of War; and Kamensky's Tango with Cows and Naked among the Clad, which contain his ferro-concrete poetry. In Petrograd, Kruchenykh publishes Old-Fashioned Love; A Forestly Boom, which contains poetry and imagery from previous editions.

• Bolshevik members of the Russian government are arrested and exiled to Siberia.


• Pavel Filonov's A Chant of Universal Flowering is published in Petrograd.

• Malevich exhibits his Cubo-Futurist paintings and Tatlin shows his "painterly reliefs" at the Tramway V exhibition in Petrograd. The Exhibition of Painting, 1915 opens in Moscow, with contributions from the Burliuk brothers, Kamensky, Mayakovsky, and Tatlin.

• The British launch their first planned air attack of the war. Italy declares war on Austria.

• The Italian Futurist Marinetti publishes his manifesto "War, the World's only Hygiene."

• In Russia, the shooting of striking workers in the town of Kostroma causes civil unrest, while Russian military forces at the front begin to retreat.

• Aliagrov (Roman Jakobson) and Kruchenykh's Transrational Boog, with imagery by Rozanova, is published in Moscow with a future date of 1916. Page through Transrational Boog (opens new window).

• In the town of Ivanovo-Voznesensk, striking workers are shot at by police. Protests against the deaths break out in Petrograd.

• In Petrograd, Malevich publishes his manifesto From Cubism to Suprematism: The New Painterly Realism, and Khlebnikov publishes his poem "Wooden Idols" with imagery by Filonov.

• Malevich's painting Black Square and other Suprematist works are exhibited at 0.10: The Last Futurist Exhibition in Petrograd.


• Kruchenykh publishes his Universal War in Petrograd with illustrations by Rozanova.

• Kruchenykh, like many artists, avoids the draft by moving to the artistic war-time oasis Tiflis in Georgia. There he founds the Futurist group 41° with Ilia Zdanevich. In Tiflis, Russian Futurism reaches "the final point beyond which it never went" (Vladimir Markov).


• In Petrograd, 140,000 workers strike to commemorate the 1905 massacre of peaceful demonstrators called "Bloody Sunday." Strikes spread across Russia with groups demanding the overthrow of the Tsar.

• The February Revolution begins. More than 100,000 strike in Petrograd. Food shortages lead to bread rationing and increasingly larger strikes reaching over 200,000. When the Tsar uses military force to control protestors, soldiers mutiny. Tsar Nicholas II abdicates and a provisional government is formed.

• The February Revolution spreads across Russia.

• In Tiflis, the book 1918 is published with poetry and imagery by Kamensky, Kruchenykh, and Kirill Zdanevich; and Learn, Artniks! Verse by Kruchenykh is published with imagery by Zdanevich.

• The October "Bolshevik" Revolution begins. Having gained a majority in the government, the Bolshevik party votes for Vladimir Lenin's seizure of power. Bolshevik groups seize control of local governing bodies across Russia.

• In Moscow, the government requisitions private art collections.

• A Cossak revolt marks the beginning of the Russian Civil War.

Information compiled by Allison Pultz from print and online sources including:

Bowlt, John. Russian Stage Design, 1900–1930 (forthcoming). The Nina and Nikita Lobanov-Rostovsky Collection. Moscow: Iskusstvo XXI vek, 2010.

Barron and Tuchman, eds. The Avant-garde in Russia 1910–1930: New Perspectives. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, University of California, 1980.

Markov, Vladimir. Russian Futurism: A History. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968.

Michaelides, Chris, compiler. "Chronology of the European Avant-Garde, 1900–1937." The British Library.

Livshits, Benedikt. Polutoraglazyj strelets: Vospominania. Moscow: 1991.