Pavel Tchelitchew

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Pavel Fyodorovich Tchelitchew
Pavel Tchelitchew, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1934
Born(1898-10-03)3 October 1898 (21 September Old Style)
Died31 July 1957(1957-07-31) (aged 58)
Known forPainting, drawing, stage design, costume design
Notable work
Hide and Seek (1940-1942), Phenomena (1936–1938), and Cache Cache (1940–1942).
MovementNeo-Romanticism, Surrealism, Futurism, Constructivism
Patron(s)Lincoln Kirstein

Pavel Fyodorovich Tchelitchew (Russian: Па́вел Фёдорович Чели́щев) (3 October [O.S. 21 September] 1898, Dubrovka,[1] near Moscow – 31 July 1957, Rome) was a Russian-born surrealist painter, set designer and costume designer.

Early Life[edit]

Tchelitchew was born to an aristocratic family of landowners and was educated by private tutors.[1] Tchelitchew expressed an early interest in ballet and art.[1] His family was forced to flee Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.[2] He studied under Aleksandra Ekster at the Kiev Academy, and after graduation worked designing and building theater sets in Odessa and later Berlin from 1920-1923.[3]


Tchelitchew moved to Paris in 1923 and became acquainted with Gertrude Stein and, through her, the Sitwell and Gorer families. His interest in creating multimedia experiences during this period that drew together painting, film, and dance, led to collaborations with ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev and choreographer George Balanchine.[2] He and Edith Sitwell had a long-standing close friendship and they corresponded frequently.[4]

His first U.S. show was of his drawings, along with other artists, at the newly opened Museum of Modern Art in 1930. In 1934, he moved from Paris to New York City with his partner, writer Charles Henri Ford. In New York he continued to work with Balanchine and met his greatest champion and patron, Lincoln Kirstein.[2] From 1940 to 1947, he provided illustrations for the Surrealist magazine View, edited by Ford and writer and film critic Parker Tyler. His most significant work is the painting Hide and Seek, painted in 1940–42, and currently owned by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Tchelitchew's early painting was abstract in style, described as Constructivist and Futurist and influenced by his study with Aleksandra Ekster. After emigrating to Paris he became associated with the Neo-romanticism movement. He continuously experimented with new styles, eventually incorporating multiple perspectives and elements of surrealism and fantasy into his painting. As a set and costume designer, he collaborated with Sergei Diaghilev and George Balanchine, among others.

Tchelitchew’s works can be found in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.[3]

The Juggler, oil on canvas painting by Pavel Tchelitchew, 1931

Among Tchelitchew's well-known paintings are portraits of Natalia Glasko, Edith Sitwell, and Gertrude Stein and the works Phenomena (1936–1938) and Cache Cache (1940–1942). Tchelitchew designed sets for Ode (Paris, 1928), L'Errante (Paris, 1933), Nobilissima Visione (London, 1938) and Ondine (Paris, 1939).[5] He was known for camouflaging bodies and faces into geometric lines or landscaped forms on artwork. He used abstractionism and symbolism to convey both the outer and inner appearance of the object.

Grave of Pavel Tchelitchew


He became a United States citizen in 1952 and died in Grottaferrata, Italy in 1957. He is interred in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.


Further reading[edit]

  • Parker Tyler, The Divine Comedy of Pavel Tchelitchew: A Biography. (New York: Fleet, 1967)

External links[edit]