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 Boris Anisfeld


Born:   October 2 (on October 14) 1878
Deceased:   December 4, 1973

Russian and American artist, stage designer.

      

Boris Israëlevich Anisfeld was born in the town of Beltsy of the Bessarabia Province into the family of the landagent Srula Ruvinovich Anisfeld. His parents wanted him to become a violinist.

However, it happened so that without any special training he entered the Odessa drawing school, where he studied under G. A. Ladyzhensky and K. K. Kostandi from 1895 to 1900. He became one of the best students at school.
 
As a graduate of the Odessa drawing school he was admitted to the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts, where he studied in the battle painting class taught by Prof. P. O. Kowalewski, who was also famous for his skilful painting of horses. Then he shortly studied in Ilya Repin’s studio and eventually became a student of the brilliant draftsman D. N. Kardovsky.
In 1901 Boris Anisfeld was a member of the World of Art association and also participated in exhibitions of the Russian Artists’ Union.
 
In 1906 his works were selected by Sergey Diaghilev for the exhibition of the World of Art and were highly estimated by critics and some masters, including M. V. Nesterov.
 
The famous Exhibition of Russian Art organized by Sergey Diaghilev in the framework of the Autumn Salon in Paris presented seven artists selected by full members of the Autumn Salon. Boris Anisfeld was one of the seven best Russian artists. This honorary title opened the door to displaying his works at this prestigious show once a year without any competition. 
 
Following his success abroad the artist gained popularity in Russia as well: the Tretyakov Gallery acquired his still life Flowers and collectors started purchasing his paintings.
 
Boris Anisfeld is mostly known as the painter of fantastic reveries and enchanting fairy shows (Oriental Legend, 1905, the Tretyakov Gallery; Magic Lake, 1914, the Russian Museum). The artist sought for specific irreal color transfer.
He contributed for magazines, including the satirical Zhupel. The Shipovnik publishing house used his satirical journal drawing for a post card, whereas his drawing Sadko was published as a postcard by the Saint Eugenia Community.
The theater became the most organic way of self-expression for Boris Ainsfeld. He debuted as a set designer with the play Wedding of Zobeida after G. von Gofmanstal (staged by V. E. Meyerhold in Komissarzhevskaya Theater in 1907).
In 1909 he created scenery based on sketches by Leo Bakst and other masters for Sergey Diaghilev’s famous Russian Ballet (Ballets Russes).
 
In 1917 Boris Anisfeld was invited by the Brooklyn Museum of New York for arranging his exhibition. In autumn of 1917, shortly before the October revolution turmoil, the artist with his family traveled via Siberia and the Far East to Japan and then settled in New York in 1918. His first personal exhibition took place in the Brooklyn Museum thanks to the well-known American critic Christian Brinton, an admirer of Russian art, including Anisfeld’s creativity.
 
Boris Anisfeld fruitfully worked as the scenery designer of plays, operas and ballets at the Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Opera. However, the world was changing and the “alchemist of color” could no longer fit into the fashionable Constructivism: in 1928 the Metropolitan Opera rejected his scenery for the ballet Turandot. It cut short his theatre work and the artist moved to Chicago to teach at the local Art Institute till 1957. He was very much into easel painting and created canvasses in the spirit of decorative and lyrical expressionism. In the 1940s and 1950s he made a series of paintings on evangelical subjects.
 

 


Tags: Boris Anisfeld Russian painters    








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