Nikolay Punin (1888-1953) was one of the most prominent art-critics of the avant-garde, and in 1919 he was the Commissar of the Hermitage and Russian Museums, as well as lecturing at the Academy of Arts and at the State University in Petrograd (and subsequently Leningrad). He was the right hand of Lunacharsky and the head of the Petrograd branch of the Visual Arts Department of Narkompross. From 1913 until 1938 Punin worked at the Russian Museum and organized several major exhibitions. However, he is not well known in the West: he died in the Gulag and he was the lover of the poetess Anna Akhmatova. In doing her research, Natalia has had unique access to the Punin family archive.
Natalia Murray was born in St Petersburg where she read Art History at the Academy of Fine Arts before taking the PhD course at the Hermitage Museum.
In 1998 she moved to England; over the past five years she has been lecturing on XIX-XX c. Russian Art at the Courtauld Institute of Art.
Natalia’s biography of Nikolay Punin, The Unsung Hero of the Russian Avant-Garde. The Life and Times of Nikolay Punin (1888-1953) , was published by Brill Academic Publishers in June 2012, and was launched at the CCRAC conference Russian Culture in Exile.1921-1953, organised by Natalia and Maria Kokkori on 2-3 November 2012 at the Courtauld.
At present Natalia is writing her second PhD thesis, at the Courtauld, on the development of Proletarian Art in Russia after the 1917 Revolution, and its various forms of expression in the street decorations of Petrograd.
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