Alexander Yakovlev

Born: 1887, St Petersburg
Died: 1938, Paris

Painter, graphic artist, theatrical designer, teacher. Studied under Dmitry Kardovsky (from 1907) at the Imperial Academy of Arts (1905–13), where he met Vasily Shukhayev, who became his lifelong friend and collaborator. Collaborated with the Satyricon (1909–13), Apollo (1910), New Satyricon and Cornfield (1914–18) magazines. Performed in Vsyevolod Meyerhold’s production of Columbine’s Scarf (based on Arthur Schnitzler’s Der Schleier der Pierette) at the House of Interludes (1910). Member of the World of Art (1912), founding member of the Guild of St Luke (1917). Fellow of the Imperial Academy of Arts in Italy (1914–15). Painted frescoes for Alexei Schusyev’s Russian Orthodox church of St Nicholas at 130 Corso Benedetto Croce in Bari (1913) and visited Capri with Shukhayev (1914), where they painted a double self-portrait depicting Shukhayev as Pierrot and Yakovlev as Harlequin in costumes designed by Nikolai Sapunov (completed by Shukhayev in 1962). Visited Spain and Majorca (1915). Invited to decorate the waiting room of the Kazan Railway Station in Moscow (1915–16) and decorated the Halt of Comedians cabaret bar in Petrograd (1916). Taught at the Bagayeva Courses of Architecture for Women (1915–16) and the New Art Studio in Petrograd (1915–17). Copied Dionysius’s frescoes at the St Therapontus Monastery of the Nativity of the Virgin (1916) and painted a plafond in Vera Firsanova’s mansion in Moscow (1916). Travelled across Mongolia, Japan and China (1917–18). Emigrated to Paris (1919), where he founded a school of art with Shukhayev in their studio at 17 Rue Campagne-Première in Montparnasse (1921). Participated in Citroën’s Black Cruise expedition across Africa, travelling through the Sahara Desert and Equatorial Africa and producing over three hundred paintings and drawings (1924–25). Visited Abyssinia (1928). Studied Ancient Roman art in Pompeii and painted genre scenes in Naples (1928–29). Participated in Citroën’s Yellow Cruise expedition across Asia, travelling through Syria, Persia, Afghanistan, Mongolia, China and Vietnam and creating eight hundred works of art (1931–32). Designed the sets for Ida Rubinstein’s production of Mikhail Fokine’s ballet Sémiramis at the Opéra de Paris (1934). Moved to the United States (1934), where he headed the painting department at the Boston School of Fine Arts (1934–37). Travelled across the United States and Mexico. Returned to Paris (1937), where he died after an unsuccessful operation (1938). Contributed to exhibitions (from 1907). Contributed to the exhibitions of the Sergei Makovsky Salon (1909), First Vladimir Izdebsky Salon (1909–10), Exhibition of Drawings of the Satyricon Magazine (1909, 1910), Union of Russian Artists (1909, 1910), World of Art (1912–14, 1916, 1917), Exhibition of Drawings of the New Satyricon Magazine (1913), Modern Russian Painting (1916), Russian Landscapes (1918), Exposition des artistes russes à Paris organisée par les membres et exposants de la Société Mir isskousstva (1921, 1927), Exhibition of Modern French Art at the Museum of New Western Art in Moscow (1928), international exhibitions in Malmö (1914), Rome (1914) and Pittsburgh (1924, 1925) and the exhibitions of Russian art in Pskov (1920), Paris (1921, 1927, 1932), London (1921, 1935), New York (1923, 1924, 1927), The Hague (1924), Amsterdam (1924), Brussels (1928), Birmingham (1928), Copenhagen (1929), Belgrade (1930) and Wilmington (1932). One-man shows in Shanghai (1919), Paris (1920, 1921 with Vasily Shukhayev, 1922, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1965), London (1920), Chicago (1922), Pittsburgh (1927 with Vasily Shukhayev and Boris Grigoriev, 1938), Leningrad (1928, 1988 with Vasily Shukhayev), Boston (1934, 1937, 1939, 1948), Washington (1934), New York (1936, 1939), Minneapolis (1938), Versailles (1967) and Boulogne-Billancourt in France (2004). Awarded the Légion d’honneur (1926).

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