Hailed as the father of Russian Futurism, David Burliuk, a painter of Ukrainian origin, was the first born of a family of artists. After beginning his training in Kazan and Odessa, he moved to Munich with his brother Vladimir. There they studied at the Königliche Bayerische Akademie under Anton Ažbe, and furthered their training in Paris under Fernand Cormon. Later, back in his country of birth, Burliuk again took lessons in Odessa in 1910 and in 1911 enrolled at the Moscow School of Painting, from which he was expelled in 1914.

On returning to Russia, Burliuk became a spearhead for the new art trends that were beginning to emerge and a promoter of change in the country’s outmoded cultural institutions. During these years his painting fluctuated between Post-Impressionism and Expressionism. In 1912 his friend Wassily Kandinsky invited him to take part in the exhibition and the almanac of Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), in which he published “‘The Savages’ of Russia, ” one of his most influential essays. In 1912 he and Vladimir Mayakovsky signed the manifesto entitled A Slap in the Face of Public Taste, which became a key document for Futurism in Russia. His work and his controversial, active role as an organiser of Futurist events made a vital contribution to the movement in his country of birth.

Burliuk took part in the exhibitions of the Jack of Diamonds group from 1910 to 1917. Following the 1917 Revolution, he emigrated to Siberia before settling in Japan and later, in 1922, he moved to New York, where he spent the rest of his life. In the United States he continued to paint and write and he and his wife founded the publication Color and Rhyme in 1930.