Serge Poliakoff was born in Moscow on January 8, 1900. In 1923 he moved to Paris and from 1928 to 1929 studied at the Académie Frochot and the Grande Chaumiere. He exhibited for the first time as part of a group at Galerie Drouant in Paris in 1931. In 1935 he left Paris and moved for a two years period to London where he took courses at the Slade School of Art. He became interested in primitive italian works and paintings of Egyptian sacrophages that can be seen at the British Museum. In his free time he played the guitar and had small roles in films mostly as a musician.
In 1937 he returned to Paris and met Vassilij Kandinskij. His first abstract works were put on display at Galerie Niveau in Paris and the same year he met Sonia and Robert Delaunay. He became a close friend of the two artists and at the same time attended courses taught by Robert. The courses remained an everlasting influence and also received a grand impression from Otto Freundlich. In 1939 he participated in the Salon des Indipendentes until 1945. He exhibited, in 1945, his first abstract works at Galerie L'Esquisse of Paris and at the same time exhibited also at Salon des Centre des Recherches on rue Cijas where he formed a group of avantgarde abstract painters. He then exhibited with Cesar Domela, Hans Hartung, Auguste Herbin and Gerard Schneider at the Denise René Gallery in Paris. He had a part in Salon de Mai, exhibit where he would subsequently continue to hold show as Salon des Surindépandants. In this period, in order to earn money, he played the guitar and created materials for design purposes.
He received the Kandinskij Prize in 1947. In 1948 he took part in exhibits at Denise René Gallery in Paris and later on in galleries throughout Scandinavia like a personal show at Tokanten Gallery in Copenhagen. His works were then acquired by the Musée de Beaux Arts of Grenoble. In 1950 he exhibited same works at Denise René Gallery and others Paris's Galerie de Beaune. 1951 marked the year where Poliakoff exhibited his most recent works at the Dina Vierny Gallery in Paris and took part in various exhibitions with groups in England and Japan. In 1952 he contracted with the Bing Gallery which permitted him to dedicate all his time to painting.
He visited the exhibit “L'Art du XX siécle” organized by the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris. There remained the works of Kasimir Malevič titled "Carré blanc sur fond blanc." The same year he created works for a solo exhibition at New York's Circle and Square Gallery. In 1953 he held grand exhibits of personal works in Belgium at: A.P.I.A.W. of Liegi and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels (where he presented forty-five paintings and six gouaches). From 1954 to 1955 he was involved in many expositions in France and abroad. In 1956 he received the Lissone Prize and during 1957 worked on scenography for the ballet “Contrè-point” with conductor Marius Constant and choreographer Roland Petit. From 1958 to 1962 he exhibited in numerous shows throughout Switzerland and Scandinavian countries. Also in Germany, England, and Pittsburgh (USA). Noteworthy are shows at Documenta II, at the III International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting (Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh), at “50 ans d'Art Moderne” in Brussels. He also became a french citizen.
In December 1960 he was one of the thirty-five artists invited to exhibit at “Ecole de Paris” at Galleria Lorenzelli in Milano. In 1962 he was invited to the XXXI Biannual of Venice and also received the International Prize from Biannual of Tokyo. In 1966 he received another important prize from Biannual of Mentone. The same year he held an important retrospective at Musée of St. Gallen in Switzerland. In 1968 he organized a retrospective at Maison de la Culture de Caen. throughout the years other retrospectives were held at the Museum of Despiau-Wlerick and Mont-de-Marsan.
Serge Poliakoff died in Paris on October 12, 1969. Afterwards, exhibitions were set up in his honor at the Lorenzelli Galleries in Milano and Bergamo. A solo show in December 1970 and a collective titled “Otto Pittori Russi” in May 1971 both tooh place at Galleria Lorenzelli of Bergamo. The “Omaggio a Serge Poliakoff” in January 1978 and “Dipinti 1952/1968” in November 1983, both took place at Galleria Lorenzelli, then Lorenzelli Arte, of Milano.
Serge Poliakoff, 1967.
Lorenzelli Arte Archive, Milano.