Who was the artist Serge Poliakoff?

Serge Poliakoff was a Russian-born French painter. One of the major figures of the post-war abstract movement, Poliakoff is known for his approach to abstraction, structured by a juxtaposition of colour planes.

Serge Poliakoff was born in Moscow on 21 January 1900. Serge Poliakoff began attending courses in drawing in Moscow in 1914. He painted his first landscapes in Nalchik, where the leading Russian landscape painter Isaac Levitan had worked. Poliakoff’s mother regularly took her son to church, where he discovered religious icons that would have a profound influence on his work as a painter. The life of the Poliakoff family was violently shaken by the Russian Revolution in 1917. The family fled the following year, travelling through Russia and the Caucasus. In 1919, Poliakoff took refuge in Constantinople with his aunt, the singer Nastia Poliakoff. Poliakoff accompanied her on the guitar, which would become his primary source of income for three decades to come. Poliakoff travelled all over Europe, passing through Belgrade, Berlin, Sofia and Vienna before reaching Paris, where he settled in 1923. In 1947, Serge Poliakoff received the Kandinsky Prize, which was created by Nina Kandinsky to encourage the abstract painting movement. A work by Poliakoff was acquired by a museum for the first time in the same year, when the Musée de Grenoble bought a painting from him.

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