Columbia University in the City of New York

Harriman Institute




Through the Brooklyn Bridge. Here Stood Mayakovsky

The Harriman Institute is pleased to present the exhibit Through the Brooklyn Bridge: Here Stood Mayakovsky, curated by the State Museum of Vladimir Mayakovsky (Moscow). The exhibit is organized around the poet’s journey to America in 1925, drawing on poems and photographs, including portraits of friends, colleagues, and people of art and culture Mayakovsky met during his trip. In addition, it will include rare landscape sketches and drawings from the collection of the State Museum of Vladimir Mayakovsky.

This project is focused on the “American” period of the poet’s life, the result of which was more than two dozen poems and his book of essays My Discovery of America. In the United States, the Mayakovsky lectured about Soviet Russia, the new revolutionary art, and gave poetry readings in New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Mayakovsky’s long-awaited meeting with his friend David Burliuk took place in New York, where Burliuk, the father of Russian Futurism, lived with his family in the Bronx after leaving the Soviet Union. Upon his return to the USSR, he shared his impressions of America.

This exhibition also unravels a mystery the poet had kept under wraps: the cryptic word “daughter,”  found on a blank page of his notebook, long haunted inquiring minds and sparked various rumors and hypotheses. But Patricia Thompson solved the mystery by disclosing the love story of her parents, Mayakovsky and Elly Jones.

The significance of Vladimir Mayakovsky as a man of extraordinary genius is invaluable not only for Russia but for the whole world. His controversial, charismatic personality left no one indifferent. He was imitated, admired, and debated. A number of people have tried to explain his phenomenal talent.

Photo: Mayakovsky on the East River embankment.