Konstantin Ivanovich Rudakov was born March 22, 1891 in St. Petersburg, Russia into a family of an artist/decorator of the Mariininsky Theater. His father died when he was three and Konstantin was placed in a philanthropic society orphanage where he was educated until he was twelve. In 1903 he entered the school of A.P. Kopilov. As Konstantin himself says, his interest in art developed at a very early age. While in his final years of school, he was brought to Tsarskoe Selo (Pushkin) to see a famous painter and pedagogue Pavel Petrovich Chistiakov. Following Chistiakov?s suggestion, Rudakov began to systematically work at drawing and painting in the private studio of V.E. Savinsky. At the same time he began attending a new art studio under the supervision of B.M. Kustodiev, E.E. Lansere, and M.V. Dobuzhinsky.
Chistiakov was the strongest influence on Rudakov in the first years of his art development. Chistiakov taught the young man ?how to paint without making a single thoughtless stroke,? and ?how to understand the objectives of a drawing.? In other words, Rudakov understood the strict relationship of a drawing as the structural foundation of a work of art. Chistiakov also played a certain role in the development of Rudakov?s style. He introduced Rudakov with Russian art, in particular with the works of M.A. Vrubel (who was one of Chistiakov?s most talented pupils) and also with the some of the phenomena of Western European painting, like the works of M. Fotuni and A. Tsorn.
In 1913 Rudakov began studying in the department of architecture of the Higher Art College, which was part of the Academy of Arts. In a year, he began his painting studies in the studio of Professor D.N. Kardovsky. An exceptional pedagogue, Kardovsky, according to Chistiakov, was able to create ?an academic institution without academic affiliations, passing on technical skills without imposing technical tricks? (A. V. Bakushinsky, A.V. Grigoriev, N.E. Radlov and D.N. Kardovsky. M., 1933, p. 50.). He helped Rudakov develop his talent freely and naturally. Also encouraging this development was that, in his pedagogical practice, Kardovsky devoted a great deal of time to questions of theory and art history.
Although Rudakov began his education in 1914, he finished it only in 1922 due to two interruptions in his education: the First World War in 1914 and the Russian Revolution in 1917. From 1918 to 1920 Rudakov was in the Red Army. He was a painter on the Baltic Fleet and helped fight illiteracy among the sailors.
Rudakov?s began supporting himself through his art as an illustrator on various periodicals and illustrated books. In 1923 his work began to be seen regularly in magazines like ?Begemot,? ?Smehach,? ?Pushka? and in the evening editions of ?Krasnaia Gazeta.?
Based on the experience he gained during that period, in 1928-1932, Rudakov produced a series of watercolors, lithographs and monotypes using the NEPNEP (New Economic Program) as the common theme. Concurrently with the series on the NEP, Rudakov worked on a collection of watercolors under a single title ?Zapad? (The West) which represented a cycle of open interpretations inspired by the works of French painters of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Because Rudakov contributed his own feelings in those improvisations, new subjects with independent emotional content were born. The series ?Zapad? represents a novel program of dynamic perceptions of life by a painter. It is not by accident that Rudakov used the works of Van Gouge for his interpretations; he felt the works of Van Gouge to be particularly perceptive. While working on this series, Rudakov rejected the restrictions of direct visual perception. He established for himself the worth of a united image based on a realistic analysis of a nature.
In the middle of 1920s, beginning of 1930s, Rudakov painted several portraits of women and children in which a lyrical side of his talent was uncovered. In his lyrical-romantic images, the painter portrayed the innate value of the uniqueness of the individual. In the 1920s Rudakov began doing graphic design, primarily illustrations for children?s books.
From the beginning of the 1930s, book illustrations became the artist?s primary creative interest. The beginning of his intensive work in this area was a result of the burgeoning Soviet book publishing industry. The painters of that time were responsible for creating new, contemporary book designs and illustrations. Many Soviet painters were involved in this, including V.A. Favorsky, Sergey Gerasimov, V.V. Lebedev, N.A. Tyrsa, A.F. Pahomov, A.I. Kravchenko, E.A. Kibrik, D.A. Shmarinow and others. Rudakov took an honorable place among those painters.