Mikhail Matiushin

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Matyushin with Malevich and Kruchenykh, 1914.

Mikhail Vasilyevich Matyushin (Михаил Васильевич Матюшин; 1861, Nizhny Novgorod - 1934, Leningrad) was a Russian painter and composer, leading member of the Russian avant-garde.

In 1910–1913 Matyushin and his wife Elena Guro were key members of the Union of the Youth, an association of Russian Futurists. Matyushin, a professional musician and amateur painter, studied physiology of human senses and developed his own concept of the fourth dimension connecting visual and musical arts, a theory that he put to practice in the classrooms of Leningrad Workshop of Vkhutein and INKhUK (1918–1934) and summarized in his 1932 Reference of Colour [Cправочник по цвету].

Matyushin conducted experiments at his Visiology Center (Zorved) to demonstrate that expanding visual sensitivity from retinian optical centers would enable the discovery of "new organic substance and rhythm in the apprehension of space." He tried to teach himself and his students to see with both eyes, each independently, and to widen the field of their vision. He describes some of his work and ideas in a long essay titled "An Artist's Experience of the New Space." In 1913 he, the writer Alexei Kruchenykh and the painter Kazimir Malevich collaborated on what they called the "first Futurist Opera", Victory Over the Sun. Later Russian Futurist sound composers utilized the ideas set forth by these innovators and carried them further, some to the point of exile from their own homes. Mikhail Matyushin, for instance, worked closely with Kandinsky studying color and musical relationships to color. His greatest work was the score for Kruchenykh’s opera Victory Over the Sun, which according to critics and fans was a “wicked and dissonant parody of Verdi” (Gordon, 218)


  • "O knige Mettsenzhe-Gleza O kubizme" [О книге Метценже-Глеза «О кубизме»], Союз молодежи 3, St Petersburg, 1913. (Russian)
  • "Futurizm v Peterburge" [Футуризм в Петербурге], Первый журнал русских футуристов 1-2, eds. Vasily Kamensky and David Burliuk, Moscow: Mysl, 1914, pp 153-157. (Russian)
  • "Rukovodstvo k izucheniyu chetvortogo tona dlya skripki" [Руководство к изучению четвёртого тона для скрипки], Petrograd, 1915. (Russian)
  • "O vystavke poslednikh futuristov" [О выставке последних футуристов], Ocharovannyy strannik [Очарованный странник], Petrograd, 1916. (Russian)
  • "O staroy i novoy muzyke", Almanakh UNOVIS [Альманах Уновис] 1, Vitebsk, 1920; facsimile repr., Moscow: ScanRus [Сканрус], 2003. (Russian)
  • Spravochnik po tsvetu [Справочник по цвету. Закономерность изменяемости цветовых сочетаний; Colour Handbook], Moscow/Leningrad, 1938; new ed., intro. L.A. Zhadova, Moscow: D. Aronov, 2007, 72 pp. (Russian)
  • "Vospominaniya futurista" [Воспоминания футуриста], Volga [Волга] 9-10 (1994), pp 72-123. (Russian)
  • "Russkiy kubofuturizm" [Русский кубофутуризм], in Russkiy futurizm: teoriya, praktika, kritika, vospominaniya [Русский футуризм: теория, практика, критика, воспоминания], Moscow: Nasledie, 1999, pp 312-328. (Russian)
  • "Staraya i novaya muzyka" [Старая и новая музыка], Iskusstvoznanie 1 (2003), pp 501-507. (Russian)
  • Tvorcheskiy put' khudozhnika [Творческий путь художника], Moscow: Muzey Organicheskoy Kul'tury, 2011, 408 pp. (Russian)


  • B.N. Kapelyush (Б.Н. Капелюш), "Arkhivy M. V. Matyushina i Ye. G. Guro" [Архивы М. В. Матюшина и Е. Г. Гуро], Ежегодник Рукописного отдела Пушкинского дома на 1974 год, Leningrad: Nauka, 1974, pp 4-23. (Russian)
  • Matjuschin und die Leningrader Avantgarde, ed. Heinrich Klotz, Stuttgart: Oktogon, 1991, 231 pp. Catalogue of the exhibition held at Badischen Kunstverein Karlsruhe, 27 Apr–9 Jun 1991. [1] (German)
  • Margareta Tillberg, Coloured Universe and the Russian Avant-Garde. Matiushin on Colour Vision in Stalin's Russia, 1932, Stockholm: Stockholm University, 2003, 406 pp. Dissertation. [2] (English)
    • Margareta Tillberg, Tsvetnaia vselennaia: Mikhail Matiushin ob iskusstve i zrenii [Цветная вселенная: Михаил Матюшин об искусстве и зрении], trans. D. Dukhavina and M. Iarosh, Moscow: Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, 2008, 512 pp. (Russian)
  • Bulat Galeyev, "Mikhail Matyushin's Contribution to Synthetic Art", Leonardo 38:2 (2005), pp 151-154. (English)
  • Margareta Tillberg, "Matiushin i muzyka", in Avangard i teatr 1910–1920-kh godov, ed. G.F. Kovalenko, Moscow: Nauka, and Gosudarstvennyi institut iskusstvoznaniia, RAN, 2008, pp 321-346. (English)
  • Margareta Tillberg, "'Be a Spectator with a Large Ear': Victory over the Sun as a Public Laboratory Experiment for Mikhail Matiushin's Theories of Colour Vision", in Victory over the Sun: The World's First Futurist Opera, eds. Rosamund Bartlett and Sarah Dadswell, University of Exeter Press, 2012, pp 208-223 & 304-307. (English)
  • Isabel Wünsche, Kunst & Leben: Michail Matjuschin und die Russische Avantgarde in St. Petersburg, Vienna/Cologne/Weimar: Böhlau, 2012, 258 pp. TOC, Bibliography, [3]. (German)

See also