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On this day 1893 Vladmir Mayakovsky (Влади́мир Маяко́вский) was born. He was a Russian poet, playwright, artist and film director. The future famous poet was born in Baghdati which these days are a part of Georgia, however throughout his life time it remained a part of Russia and the Soviet Union. At the age of 15 the young Mayaskovsky lost his father, at this point his mother took it upon herself to move the family to Moscow. Upon studying in Moscow, Mayaskovsky started to develop an interest for socialist literature.
Upon graduation to the Moscow Art School, he became acquainted with David Burlyuk and other members of the growing Russian futurist movement. However he soon expelled for his political activism and the political message within his writings. Throughout the war his works were often strongly influenced by a love affair with a married woman; however his other works frequently centered on his attitude towards the war and his growing sympathy for the ideas of socialism.
After the war, whilst still living in Moscow, Mayakovsky worked for Russian State Telegraph Agency creating propaganda posters which are undoubtedly very typical for the era. The eventual victory of the communist and Mayakovsky style of futurist art led him to become very popular member of the leftist art movement. Unusually, Mayakovsky was given permission to travel abroad by the communist party, he visited Britain, USA, Mexico and Germany among others. His travels culminated in his work entitled “My Discovery of America” (Мое открытие Америки, 1925) which was published in 1925. Perhaps his travels added to his growing disillusionment with the progression of the Soviet Union. His later plays, including “The Bedbug” (Клоп, 1929) demonstrated Mayakovsky’s growing dissatisfaction with Stalin’s regime.
In 1930, Mayakovsky shot himself, however this fact is still disputed by many. Despite his early death, his work left a legacy not only on futurism, but on 20th century art as a whole. Immediate after his death, Mayakovsky was criticised by the Soviet Press. Nevertheless, in a strange turn of events, this criticism was soon banned by Stalin, who then officially canonised the artist.
Although the works of Mayakovsky are a permanent legacy of his, many of you may have noticed Mayakovsky immortalised by the metro station on Nevsky Prospect. And to this day, much of his work is taught to children in Russian schools. To all those interested in furthering their knowledge of Russian culture, perhaps immersing yourself in the work of Mayakovsky may satisfy this.
James Fox is an English student, a current intern and studying Russian at Liden & Denz St. Petersburg