Russian Personalities

People well-known in art, sport, film, fashion

Lilya Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky

Lilya Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky

Lilya Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky

On August 4, 1978, at the age of 87, Lilya Brik committed suicide by taking a lethal dose of sleeping pills.
She made a difficult decision because she was confined to bed and could not have a normal life.
And the life of the great muse and temptress was truly remarkable to the end.

In her appearance there was nothing that could be called beautiful. But she could be fatal and men went crazy for her.

She was one of the most famous and influential women in Russian and Soviet culture. She was admired by men and helped many talented people to become famous. Pablo Neruda called her “muse of Russian avant-garde”.

When Vladimir Mayakovsky met Lilya in 1915, he fell in love at first sight.
Later Vladimir constantly confessed his love to her, claiming that he had written everything only thanks to her.

Lilya and Vladimir

Lilya and Vladimir

Lilya Kagan was born on November 11, 1891 into a wealthy Jewish family of a lawyer and a music teacher in Moscow.
She was an older sister of Elsa Triolet, a French writer.
Lilya received an excellent education and was able to speak fluent German and French and play piano. She graduated from Moscow Institute of Architecture.

In her teens Lilya brought a lot of trouble to her parents, because she always fell in love easily.
At the age of 13 she began dating. And every time it was love “to the grave”. She even was going to marry her uncle (!). Of course they didn’t get a permit.
As a result of one love affair 17-year-old girl became pregnant. Lilya was sent to the village, where she had ??an urgent abortion, after which she lost the ability to have children.
On February 26, 1912 Lilya married poet-futurist and poetry critic Osip Brik.
Soon the couple moved to St. Petersburg, where in 1915 Lilya met poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. They began dating, but Lilya remained married to Osip Brik.

After June 1915, Mayakovsky’s lyrical poetry was almost exclusively devoted to Lilya: “A Cloud in Trousers” (1915), “The Backbone Flute” (1916), “About This” (1922), “Lilechka! Instead of a Letter”.
Osip financed the publication of futurist poetry collection ‘Cloud in Trousers’ (1915).
Mayakovsky and the Briks became inseparable, they lived together in one flat.

In 1918, Mayakovsky wrote the scenario for the movie “Chained by the Film”, in which he played a role of an artist and Lilya played a ballet dancer.
In 1926, she produced and directed a documentary titled ‘Jews on the land’, with the script cowritten by Mayakovsky and Victor Shklovsky.
From 1922-1928 Lily Brik was involved in publishing the magazine ‘LEF’ (Leftist Front of Arts) and her portrait by Alexander Rodchenko appeared on the cover.
In 1930 Mayakovsky shot himself. Some authors consider that his passion for Lilya was one of the motives that drove Mayakovsky to suicide. Lilya was on a trip in Europe and couldn’t save him as twice before.
Lilya Yurievna became unofficial poet’s widow, as well as an editor, compiler and commentator of his books.

Lilya said that she had four husbands: Osip Brik, Mayakovsky, V. Primakov (a prominent Soviet military commander, who was shot in 1937) and Vasily Katanyan. Lilya spent forty years together with her last husband.

On August 4, 1978, in Peredelkino Lilya wrote: “In my death I ask no one to blame. Vasik! I adore you. Forgive me. And friends, forgive me. Lily. ”
And took the pills, she added:
“Nembutal, nembut …”

Lily Katanyan and Parajanov

Lily with her husband Katanyan and last love Parajanov

Lily was a model for portraits by such famous artists as Marc Chagall, Alexander Tyshler, Alexander Rodchenko, David Burlyuk, Fernand Leger, and Henri Matisse.

The famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent admired Lilya’s sense of style and on the 85th birthday, he presented her with a gorgeous dress.

Lilya Brik and Vladimir Mayakovsky