Mstislav Dobuzhinsky

Born: 1875, Novgorod
Died: 1957, New York

Graphic artist, painter, theatrical designer, teacher. Studied at the Faculty of Law of St Petersburg University (1895–99), School of Drawing of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts (1885–87), private school of Princess Maria Tenisheva in St Petersburg (1895) and the schools of Anton Ažbè and Simon Hollósy in Munich (1899–1901). Painted Impressionist landscapes in the Hungarian village of Baia Mare and studied etching at the studio of Johann Wilhelm Mathé in Lithuania (1901). Member of the World of Art (from 1902; secretary 1910–16), Union of Russian Artists (from 1904), Moscow Fellowship of Artists (1909–17) and the New Society of Artists (1907–12). Drew for such satirical magazines as Chout and Dragonfly (1897–1902) and Bugbear and Hellish Post (1905). Collaborated with the Artistic Treasures of Russia (1903), Golden Fleece (1906–08) and Apollo (1909–15) magazines and the White Nights (1907) and Dogrose (1907–08) almanacs. Worked for theatres in St Petersburg and Moscow (from 1907), including the Moscow Art Theatre (1910s) and Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes (from 1914). Designed the sets and costumes for performances of Josef Bayer’s ballet Die Puppenfee by the Anna Pavlova Ballet Company in London (1914) and Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale The Swineherd at the Halt of Comedians cabaret bar in Petrograd (1918). Taught at the Elizaveta Zvantseva School of Painting and Drawing in St Petersburg (1906–10), New Art Studio in St Petersburg (1911–17), State Free Art Studios/VKhUTEIN in Petrograd (1918–23) and Vitebsk School of Art (1923–24). Emigrated to Lithuania (1924), visited Paris to work for Nikita Balieff’s Théâtre de la Chauve-Souris (1926) and returned to Lithuania, where he was appointed principal designer of the Lithuanian State Theatre in Kaunas (1926). Travelled to London at the invitation of Michael Chekhov to work for the Chekhov Theatre School (1938), moved with the company to the United States (1939). Spent his last five years in Europe, returning to the United States not long before his death. Designed the sets and costumes for almost two hundred shows in over fifty theatres in twenty countries (1907–57). Contributed to the exhibitions of the World of Art (1902, 1903, 1906, 1911–13, 1915–18, 1922, 1924), Union of Russian Artists (1904–10), In the World of Art (1908–11), Sergei Makovsky Salon (1909), First Vladimir Izdebsky Salon (1909–10), First State Free Exhibition of Works of Art (1919), Fire-Colour (1924), Exposition Universelle et Internationale in Brussels (1910), international exhibitions in Munich (1909), Rome (1911, 1914), Malmö (1914) and Venice (1914, 1924) and the exhibitions of Russian art in Paris (1906, 1910, 1921, 1925, 1930–32, 1936), Berlin (1906, 1910, 1922, 1930), Vienna (1908), New York (1924), Brussels (1928), Birmingham (1928), Copenhagen (1929), Belgrade (1930) and London (1921, 1935). Contributed to the final World of Art exhibitions in Paris. One-man shows in Petrograd/Leningrad (1915, 1920, 1925, 1965), Tallinn (1925), Amsterdam (1928), London (1935, 1955, 1959), Vilnius (1963, 1975), Moscow (1975) and New York (1979).

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