Mihkail Kurzin was born in Shadrinsk (accourding to other sources in Barnaul) in merchant family. His early interest to painting made him go to the Kazan art school — it was one of the biggest art schools in Russia at that time. Kurzin was there fron 1904 to 1907. The next two years (1901–1908) he studied in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture where he was joined to K. Korovin’s educational system. In 1911 Kurzin moved to St. Petersburg where he perfected his art skills in M. Bernstain private art studio. It became the place where Kurzin got involved into the newborn culture. His school-mates were M. Le-Dantu, V. Tatlin, V. Ermolaeva, N. Lapshin, V. Lebedev — those people who would determine the ways of Russian leftist art in a couple of years. Apparently Kurzin’s study in St. Petersburg was so beneficial that after returning to Barnaul in 1916 he made his first and last solo exhibition on his lifetime. According to L. Snitko on that exhibition the artist showed his first satiric grotesques that “exposed dullness and ignorance of inhabitants”, ridiculed religious orthodoxy. There were also the works from circus series — they are brave and romantic at the same time.
In 1920s an attitude to old and new in life of postrevolutionary Tashkent happened in his creative work — he lived in the old part of the city and saw this life very close. He was one of the first who began practicing public portraying — he made sketches of people not only in city parks and squares, but also in chaykhonas and cranes of old Tashkent.
Voice of tragic Kurzin in the contest of 1930s art is unique. He had no followers or school, the substance of his creative work itself was a contrast to so called pleasant and lyric performance of incoming changes. Even truthful expressionism made carefully in every brushstroke of his painting, every line of his drawing was against of consolidating impressionism was surprisingly coming out as a savior of stuffy socialist realism.
In 1936 Kurzin, that was sharp n his words and was not descended to conformism, was arrested and judged for “counterrevolutionary propaganda”. While arresting all his property was removed by NKVD and the major part of his heritage perished. Kurzin was exiled to Kolima, he had been there for almost 10 years. In 1948 for “disturbance of regime” (from time to time Kurzin secretly arrived to Tashkent to visit his family) he was arrested and judged once again. He was sent to live in Siberia and emancipated from amnesty only in 1954. But life on the freedom wasn’t so long — he died in 1957.
2009 Mikhail Kurzin and Elena Korovay. Painting and drawing 1910s–1960s. From public collections of Omsk museums. Omsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts named after M. Vrubel, Russia
2013 Exhibition on the occasion of the 125 anniversary of M. Kurzin and D. Chashnikov. State Art Museum of Altai Region, Barnaul, Russia
Contemporary Art Gallery ARTSTORY, Moscow
Omsk Regional Museum of Fine Arts named after M. Vrubel, Russia
State Art Museum named after A. Kasteyev, Kazakhstan
State Art Museum of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tashkent
State Art Museum of Altay Region, Russia
Private collections of Moscow and Tashkent