Pavel Tchelitchew Russia, 1898-1957


Pavel Tchelitchew (b. 1898, Dubrovka, Russia; d. 1957, Grottaferrata, Italy) was a Russian-born artist who emigrated to Paris and New York, and developed unique and extraordinary imagery in a Surrealist mode. After studying in Kiev with Alexandra Exter, Tchelitchew spent the early years of his career producing set designs for theaters like Der Blaue Cabaret Theatre in Berlin. In 1923, the artist moved to Paris and quickly befriended members of the French avant-garde scene, Gertrude Stein, Edith Sitwell, and George Balanchine (with whom he collaborated on stage productions for ballets). Four years after his U.S. debut at The Museum of Modern Art in 1930, Tchelitchew moved to New York City with Charles Henri Ford, his then-partner. Tchelitchew produced several illustrations for Ford’s magazine View, a major contribution to Surrealism’s establishment in the United States. Tchelitchew’s style is broad in range and includes constructivist-inspired geometric abstraction, biomorphic imagery informed by classical figuration, and surreal landscapes. Tchelitchew belonged to an underground group of gay artists based in New York City in the early twentieth-century, which included George Platt Lynes, Jared French, Cadmus Kirstein and Tchelitchew’s longtime patron, Lincoln Kirstein, among others. Together, Tchelitchew and his peers created psychosexual art that pushed the boundaries of normative visual and literary culture at the time. Tchelitchew’s work is included in several prominent art collections including the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Courtald Institute of Art in London, The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago.