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IVAN PUNI, research project

Ivan Puni (Jean Pougny) is a well-known artist, hundreds of authors have written about him. It is all the more surprising that there are still many uncertainties about his work and biography, and some information that was long believed to be true turns out to be false upon verification. One example is the year of Puni's birth. Xenia Boguslavskaya (the artist's wife) indicated 1894 in the catalogues of retrospective exhibitions she held after her husband's death. In the catalogue raisonné, the first volume of which was published by Herman Berninger in 1972, Puni's year of birth is given as 1892. In fact, a Birth certificate we found in one of the St-Petersburg archives shows that Ivan Albertovich Puni was born on 22 March 1890.

Inaccurate data are often found in the attributions of works by (or attributed to) Ivan Puni that are offered at auctions and even from museum collections. Examples include four paintings from the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, for which Puni's authorship was disproved by a study made public by the museum in 2020. It is particularly sad that they were acquired in 1993 with the confirmation of Berninger, the publisher of the catalogue raisonné. Sadly, the art market is littered with FAKE PUNIS that compromise above all his early, most rare and sought-after work.

Thus, there is a need to understand the artistic heritage of Ivan Puni, to separate truth from fiction, and to put things in order. This is the goal of our research project. The most significant research results are published on this website. Little-known BIOGRAPHICAL information about Puni's parents, about his studies at the Nicholas Cadet Corps and about his service as a postal official is given. The details of his work as a professor at the former Academy of Arts and his stay in Vitebsk are revealed.

The MYTHs & FACTS section refutes falsehoods that have become prevalent in the literature as a result of uncritical reprinting.

Attention is paid to the periodisation of Puni's work and its evolution in the St-Petersburg (before 1920), Berlin (1921-1923) and Paris (after 1923) periods. The two-volume CATALOGUE RAISONNÉ of Puni, published in 1972/1992, is critically analysed. Puni's Berlin exhibition at the Sturm Gallery (1921) is analysed from a new point of view.

For completeness, the theoretical TEXTS by IVAN PUNI and a list of his EXHIBITIONS are provided.

The research project is also intended to advise museums, galleries, auction houses and collectors on the AUTHENTITY of Puni's works.

All enquiries are accepted at the address given in the CONTACTS section.


  News

2023-11-24: Launching the site


Ivan Puni (Jean Pougny) (1890-1956)
before 1917 the dates are given according to the old calendar

22 March 1890 Birth. Son of Albert Puni, cellist of the Imperial Theatres; baptised on 6 April 1890 in the Matveevskaya Church in St-Petersburg
1899-1902 studied at the Karl May School and the Vvedensky Gymnasium
1902–1907 studied at the Nicholas Cadet Corps
1908-1910 took private art lessons
1910-1912 First trip to Paris. Attended the Julian Academy and other private art schools. In 1911 in Naples met Xenia Boguslavskaya. In spring 1912 - return to St-Petersburg
1913 Active participation in the life of the Futurists, open flat at No. 1 Gatchinskaya Street, preparation of the collection "Roaring Parnassus". Participation in exhibitions of the Union of Youth
1914 Trip to Europe (Paris, Marseille, Brussels). Participation in the 30th Salon des Indépendants. Correspondence with Malevich, preparation of the exhibition "Tramway V"
1915 Organising the exhibitions "Tramway V" and "0.10". Starting employment at the Post Office
1916 Lecture (with Malevich) at the Tenishevsky school
1917 Participation in the Union of Artists and the Committee for the Protection of Monuments
1918 Participation in the decoration of Petrograd for May and November holidays. Appointment as a professor of the former Academy of Arts (November)
1919 Work at Chagall's school in Vitebsk (January-April). Publication of articles in the Vitebsk collection "Revolutionary Art" and in the Petrograd newspaper "Art of the Commune"
1920 Leaving for Finland with the Shukhaev family (late January - early February). Moving to Berlin (October)
1921 Solo exhibition at Galerie Der Sturm (February)
1921-1922 Participation in exhibitions as part of the November Group. Congress in Düsseldorf (29-31 May 1922), manifestos, communication with Dadaists. Lecture at the Berlin House of Arts (3 November 1922)
1923 Publication of the brochure "Modern Painting". Move to Paris (autumn)
1925 Solo exhibition at Galerie Barbazanges
1933 Solo exhibition at Galerie Jeanne Castel
1940 Transfer to the south of France (Antibes) with the Delaunay couple
1942 Return to Paris
1943 Solo exhibition at Galerie Louis Carré. The manner shown ("intimism" or lyrical primitivism) summarised twenty years of creative experimentation and did not change significantly from this point. Since then he exhibited regularly
28 December 1956 Jean Pougny died of a heart attack