Nikolay Punin (1888-1953) was the most articulate Russian/Soviet art critic of the 1920s. He strongly advocated Constructivism, an avant-garde impulse that favored mechanomorphic abstraction and proclaimed a movement to bring art into the center of popular life. In the United States, he is perhaps best remembered for his love affair with Anna Akhmatova, one of the great poets of the twentieth century.
This volume presents the first English translation of ten diary notebooks that Punin wrote between 1915 and 1936, as well as selections from his earlier (1904-1910) and later (1941-1946) diaries and some thirty notes and letters relating to his affair with Anna Akhmatova. These materials offer a rare glimpse into the life of art and artists in Russia. They also present vivid scenes from the 1905 Revolution, World War I, the 1917 Revolutions, World War II, and Stalinist oppression through the reflections of a talented man, who, unlike many of his generation, lived to tell the tale.
"Punin was an extraordinary figure, both as a man and as a thinker.... His relations with such schools as Constructivism, Acmeism, and Formalism make him a key figure in understanding the fate of theory in Russia."
—J. Michael Holquist, Yale University, editor of the works of M. M. Bakhtin