Serge Poliakoff, whose real name was Sergei Poliakoff, was born in Moscow in 1900 into a Kyrgyz family of fourteen children, and left Russia in 1919, following the Russian Revolution. He travels all over Europe, including Sofia, Belgrade, Vienna and Istanbul, where he plays guitar to passers-by in order to survive. Poliakoff finally settled in Paris in 1923, where he studied art, first at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, then at the Académie Frochot.

In Paris, Serge Poliakoff became friends with Vassili Kandinsky, Otto Freundlich, Sonia and Robert Delaunay. He belongs to this generation of foreign painters living in Paris, grouped together under the name “Ecole de Paris”. Influenced by his friends, but also by Egyptian art, which he discovered during his stay in London from 1935 to 1937, the artist belatedly embarked on the adventure of abstract painting.

From 1939 onwards, he developed a personal form of abstraction, painting with a spatula large area of color superimposed and interwoven into each other to give an impression of depth. In the aftermath of the war, the artist’s talent was recognized, but Serge Poliakoff had to continue playing the balalaika until the early 1950s to ensure his subsistence. Around that time, he practiced many techniques including lithography, etching, watercolor, charcoal and collage

In 1962, he had a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale and was naturalised as a French citizen the same year. Serge Poliakoff died in 1969 in Paris, at the age of sixty-nine.