Nikolai Ivanovich Khardzhiev (1903, Kochovka, Ukraine – 1996, Amsterdam) was a Russian art and literary critic, a collector of historical Russian avant-garde art and a great expert in that field. His father was Armenian, his mother Greek. He began publishing articles in various newspapers and magazines at the age of eighteen, and graduated from Odessa University with a degree in Law in 1925. At the end of the 1920s he moved, first to Leningrad, then to Moscow. Khardzhiev had a great affinity with the Russian futurist poets and avant-garde artists, many of whom he knew personally. In 1928 he met Malevich, with whom he felt a deep connection. He also had a close relationship with Tatlin, a fact that he concealed from Malevich, as Tatlin and Malevich were not exactly on the best of terms. Khardzhiev also maintained an extensive network in the world of literature and corresponded with a number of major poets, including Osip Mandelstam and Anna Akhmatova. In the 1950s he met his second wife, Lidia Vasil’evna Chaga (1912-1995). She was a ballerina, doll-maker and artist, and like Khardzhiev had accrued a modest art collection. In 1993, the 90-year-old Khardzhiev and his wife moved to Amsterdam, where they remained together until her death. Chaga was cremated, while Khardzhiev lies buried in Zorgvlied cemetery in Amsterdam.
Khardzhiev’s art collection contains a great many works by Russian avant-garde artists. The most important are the works by Malevich (eight paintings and numerous works on paper), Goncharova (painting), Rozanova (paintings and works on paper), Lissitzky (drawings) and Larionov (works on paper). In addition to the art collection, he also maintained an extensive archive containing his correspondence with artists and poets, as well as photos and manuscripts.