Ivan Puni

Ivan Albertovitch Pugni, known as Ivan Puni, born on 20 February 1892 in Kuokkala (Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire) and died in Paris on 28 December 1956 (aged 64), was a Franco-Russian painter.

Photograph of Ivan Puni (1892–1956)
Photograph of Ivan Puni (1892–1956)


Ivan Puni's family is of Italian origin. He is a grandson of the composer Cesare Pugni.

In 1910, he made his first stay in Paris where he discovered Paul Cézanne, Fauvism and Cubism, and exhibited at the Salon des indépendants.

On his return to Russia, due to the outbreak of the First World War, he joined the avant-garde group Soyuz Molodioji ("Union of Youth") and became friends with Vladimir Mayakovsky and Velimir Khlebnikov. He married the painter Ksenia Boguslavskaya.

In Petrograd, in March 1915, he organised the first Futurist exhibition, which he called "Tramway V" and presented artists known as "cubo-futurists". The artists were instructed not to show their work before the opening. The surprise was to discover two distinct currents: the first represented by Kasimir Malevitch, who proposed eccentric variations of Cubism, and the second by Vladimir Tatlin, who, transposing Cubism into volume, pushed the logic of deconstruction of form to the end. Puni exhibited eleven of his Cubist-inspired works, as well as a relief, Joueurs de cartes (Card Players), which has since disappeared, and a Nature morte (Still Life) consisting of a hammer hanging from a nail stuck in a sheet of paper. This exhibition caused a scandal. One critic saw in his paintings only "an assemblage of heterogeneous materials, a barricade of scrap metal and rubbish, [at a time] when the blood of Russian children was flowing freely.

Ivan Puni did it again at the end of 1915 and organised the "Last Futurist Exhibition of Paintings, 0.10", where the future constructivists around Tatlin and the supremacists around Malevich clashed. Puni adheres to Suprematism.

After the October Revolution of 1917, which he joined enthusiastically, Puni showed a predilection for things that had no aesthetic value, letters, numbers and the most utilitarian objects: "the object is freed from meaning, to acquire a new (artistic) meaning without losing its character as an object (for social use)2 " and he did not reject the decorative value of colour. He was appointed professor at the Petrograd Academy of Fine Arts.

Feeling that he had reached a dead end, "basically Suprematism remains an experimental construction within the painting", he drew "urban subjects where a dynamic narrative scene and a black and static geometric organisation coexist.

In 1919, he went into exile, first to Berlin, then to Paris in 1924 where he Frenchified his name.

In the 1940s and 1950s, he painted canvases in an intimist style in the style of Édouard Vuillard.

In 1956, he donated his works to the Musée National d'Art Moderne.


  • Bains, 1915, oil on canvas, 73 × 92 cm, private collection
  • Still Life with Hammer, March 1915, gouache board, hammer, nail, 80 × 65.5 × 9 cm, private collection
  • Relief with Pincers, 1915, board, pincers, ball painted red, 45 × 55.5 × 32.7 cm, private collection
  • The Hairdresser, 1915, oil on canvas, 83 × 65 cm, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris
  • Suprematist Composition, 1915, oil on canvas, 84.5 × 56.5 cm, private collection
  • La Boule blanche, 1917, painted wood with oil and plaster, 34 × 51 × 12 cm, Musée d'art moderne, Paris
  • Enseigne pour un tailleur, 1917, oil on canvas, private collection (the work originally belonged to Fernand Léger)
  • Revolution, 1917, Indian ink on paper, 30.5 × 23 cm, private collection
  • Le Violon rouge, 1919, glue paint on paper mounted on canvas, 115 × 146 cm, Musée national d'art moderne, Paris5
  • The Synthetic Musician, 1921, oil on canvas, 145 × 98 cm, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin
  • Rue à Paris, hst, (n.d.), Musée du Petit Palais, Geneva
Ivan Puni, 1914, Portrait of Artist's Wife, oil on canvas, 89 x 62.5 cm, The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.
Ivan Puni, 1914, Portrait of Artist's Wife, oil on canvas, 89 x 62.5 cm, The Russian Museum, St. Petersburg.


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Digital Suprematism
El Lissitzky
Ivan Albertovitch Pugni
Ivan Pugni
Ivan Puni
Kazimir Malevich
Russian Constructivism


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This page was last changed on 2021-09-21.