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Kupreianov, Nikolai Nikolaevich

Купреянов, Николай Николаевич

Born 1894, Vlotslavek’ (Włocławek), Kingdom of Poland; died 1933, Moscow Region, USSR

Nikolai Nikolaevich Kupreianov was a graphic artist of the early Soviet-era. His roster of work includes engravings, watercolors, lithography, easel paintings and book illustrations. In 1912, Kupreianov began his artistic studies under Princess Maria Klavdievna Tenisheva at her school in St. Petersburg. He also studied under Dmitrii Kardovski, an illustrator and stage designer, and under Kuzma Sergeevich Petrov-Vodkin, a noted painter and art theorist. Kupreianov gained further education from Anna Petrovna Ostroumova-Lebedeva, an artist known for her watercolors. After training, it was with a series of engravings that Nikolai Kupreianov entered the professional art world in the 1910s.

After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Nikolai Kupreianov taught photography in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) at the Higher Institute of Photography and Phototechnics. He also worked in poster design. Two of his famous titles from 1919 are, “Citizens, preserve historical monuments”, and “Books are the source of knowledge. Citizens, protect libraries.” The posters were designed for the People's Commissariat of Education as public messages because historical artifacts and art were being destroyed by the public in the name of the Russian Revolution. During this period, the artist stopped engraving and switched to drawing and painting. Together with a group of artists, he moved to Moscow where he went on to become a master of realism.

In 1919, Kupreianov participated in the First Free State Art Exhibition held at the Winter Palace in Petrograd, and he exhibited in the Sixth State Exhibition of [Print] Engravings held in Moscow, 1918-1919. The artist was represented at the First Russian Art Exhibition in Berlin (1922), and he exhibited with OST (Obshchestvo khudozhnikov-stankovistov), the Society of Easel Artists, and with the Four Arts Society of Artists, of which he was a member.

Kupreianov’s work was featured at the 14th International Art Exhibition of the 1924 Venice Biennale, and at the 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris. He was featured in various international exhibitions from 1927 to 1929. The artist taught at the Moscow branch of VKhUTEMAS/VKhUTEIN (Higher Art and Technical Institute) from 1922 to 1930, and at the MPI (Moscow Polygraphic Institute) from 1930 to 1933.

Kupreianov was included in the formative Moscow exhibition, The Tenth Anniversary of the Revolution (1927) and he contributed to the “Liberation Movements of the XVI-XX Centuries” held in Moscow in 1928. That same year, his work was featured in the show, Acquisitions by the State Art Collections Fund of Moscow. In 1929, the artist was represented in the First Traveling Exhibition of Paintings and Graphics that opened in Moscow and was organized by the People's Commissariat of Education. In 1932-33, the artist was represented at the “Artists of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic over 15 Years” held at the Russian Museum in Leningrad. In 1933, Nikolai Nikolaevich Kupreianov drowned in the Ucha River on the outskirts of Moscow.


Milner, J. (1993). A dictionary of Russian and Soviet artists 1420-1970. Woodbridge: Antique Collectors' Club. (bio)
Baburina, N. I. (1988). The Soviet Political Poster, 1917-1980. New York: Penguin. (bio, artist) (bio)