Nikolai Khodataev

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Nikolai Khodataev

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Born in the village of Konstantinovsk in 1892, the son of a wealthy tsarist official, Nikolai Khodataev took painting lessons in his youth, eventually enrolling in the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, at the age of twenty. In 1918, after the Russian Revolution, he began to study architecture, eventually finding work in the State Committee for the Preservation of Ancient Architecture.

Khodataev got his start in film in 1924, when he was hired to sketch concept art for Aelita (Protazanov, 1924), many of which ended up being used instead in Interplanetary Revolution, a short experimental cut-out animation made in collaboration with Yuri Merkulov and Zenon Komissarenko. Drawing upon the success of this film, Khodataev set up a short-lived, but influential experimental animation studio in the State School of Cinematography. During the 1920s, he was also enlisted to work on a number of state-funded propaganda and public education animations, notably the feature film, China In Flames (1925), which critiques European imperialism in China, and Terrible Vavila and Auntie Arina (1927), an exploration of the place of women in Soviet society. He similarly foregrounded women in One of Many, which he made in collaboration with his sister, Olga—an accomplished animator in her own right—and an all-women crew. 

Though his work has been well-regarded, as a stylistic pioneer in early Soviet animation, Khodataev largely faded into obscurity by the 1930s. He died in Moscow, in 1979.


Bendazzi, Giannalberto. Animation: A World History: Volume I: Foundations – The Golden Age. Routledge, 2015.

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