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Dobuzhinsky Mstislav Valerianovich
August 15, 1875 (Novgorod) — November 20, 1957 (New York)  Graphic artist, painter, illustrator, scene-designer  Dobuzhinsky was born to a family of artillery officer, descendant of Russified Lithuanian old family. In 1884–1886 Dobuzhinsky studied at the School of Drawing under Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, and then he was promoted to the second class of the 1st Petersburg’s gymnasium.  In 1887 his father was transferred to the service in Kishinev, and Dobuzhinsky lived there till 1889, before his family had moved to Vilna.  After leaving Vilna gymnasium in 1895, Dobuzhinsky moved to St. Petersburg and entered the faculty of law at St. Petersburg University. In 1896 he tried to enter the Academy of Arts, but he was not admitted. In 1901 Dobuzhinsky retried, but unsuccessfully. In 1897 Dobuzhinsky studied at the Baron A. L. Stieglitz’s Central School of Technical Drawing, at the same time he studied at the N. D. Dmitriev-Orenburgsky’s art school, and then — at the L. E. Dmitriev-Kavkazsky’s school. In 1897 he made his debut as an artist: two drawings were published in the magazines Strekoza (Dragonfly) and Shut (Jester).  In March 1899 Dobuzhinsky was expelled from the University for taking part in political campus unrest, but he was reinstated in a month. In summer Dobuzhinsky completed his studies at the University with the diploma of the first degree. In the same year Dobuzhinsky moved to Munich in order to receive professional art education and to study under A. Ažbe, and then under S. Hollósy.  In 1901 Dobuzhinsky returned to St. Petersburg, studied etching and engraving under V. V. Matai. Despite the exam failure in Academy of Arts, he attended classes of the professor P. O. Kovalevsky.  In 1902 Dobuzhinsky became a member of the society Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”), and in 1903, because of breakup of the society, he joined to the Union of Russian Artists (SPKh). He participated in exhibitions of the Union, exposed his graphic works, paintings and city landscapes. During 1904 Dobuzhinsky created about 20 paintings with views of St. Petersburg, Vilna, Novgorod, Rostov-on-Don etc., where he travelled a lot.  In 1905 Dobuzhinsky participated in foundation of the magazine Zhupel (Bugbear), in 1906 — magazine Adskaya Pochta (“Hellish Mail”). For the first time he worked as a book illustrator when he designed the story by A. S. Pushkin The Stationmaster.  Dobuzhinsky continued his series of city landscapes. After visiting Europe in 1906, he painted views of London. His works were exposed at the Autumn Salon in Paris and in the exhibition of Secession in Berlin.  After returning to Moscow, Dobuzhinsky began to teach. He gave lessons in the E. N. Zvantzeva’s private art school (1906–1911), in the art circle at St. Petersburg University (1907–1908). In 1911 Dobuzhinsky organized New Art Workshop and taught there till 1917.  In 1907 Dobuzhinsky met K. S. Stanislavsky, V. Meyerhold, V. F. Komissarzhevskaya, F. F. Komissarzhevsky; he began to work as a set designer. He cooperated with the V. F. Komissarzhevskaia’s Theatre, with Starinniy Teatr (“Old Theatre”), with the Chekhov Moscow Art Theatre (MKhT).  In 1908 Dobuzhinsky worked in the magazine Satirikon. In the same year the State Tretyakov Gallery bought his painting The man in spectacles. Then he joined to the again organized group Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”) and became its secretary.  Two books Alphabet of Mir Iskusstva and Alphabet by Steve and Dody (sons of the artist) with illustrations by Dobuzhinsky were published in 1911. In 1914 Dobuzhinsky designed the ballets for Dyagilev’s enterprise (Midas and Butterflies).  When World War I had begun, Dobuzhinsky was in London. Several times he went to the front in the hospital trains: to the Polish front (1914), to the Galician (February 1915), where he drew sketches from nature. Then he exposed these drawings in St. Petersburg. In 1916 the artist was inducted into the army. He was enlisted in the General Directorate of the Red Cross.  At the time of revolution Dobuzhinsky started social activities. In March 1917 he served on the Commission of arts under the Soviet of workers and soldiers deputies. He became a member and a professor of the Soviet of the state labor workshops of decorative arts. In 1919 he lectured at the Institute of Art History and at the department of decorative arts at the Higher Institute of Photography and Photo technique.  In April 1918 Dobuzhinsky participated in establishment of the Theatre of Tragedy in St. Petersburg, where he headed the art department and designed several performances. He also was engaged in decoration of the city to the first anniversary of the October Revolution.  In November 1918 Dobuzhinsky went to Vitebsk in order to establish the Institute of Art and Practical trainings on the instructions of the Art department of Northwest district. Dobuzhinsky lived in Vitebsk for a year, took part in establishment of Vitebsk Art Museum, and then he returned to Petrograd. In the autumn of 1919, Dobuzhinsky set up his own art workshop.  Until 1922 Dobuzhinsky worked in Petrograd House of Arts (together with M. Gorky), lectured in different institutions, including the Academy of Arts. He created scene designs for the Bolshoi Drama Theater. In 1922 he created a series of lithographs St. Petersburg in 1921.  In 1923 Dobuzhinsky went abroad, he traveled to European cities. He collaborated with Dresden Opera; in 1924 he designed the opera by P. I. Chaykovsky Eugene Onegin. In the same year the artist was granted Lithuanian citizenship, in 1926 he moved to Paris and lived there till 1929.  During Paris period, Dobuzhinsky lectured at the School of decorative art (1926–1928), in the private Art Academy of T. L. Tolstaya-Sukhotina (1928). He collaborated with N. F. Baliev cabaret theatre Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”) in Paris. His personal exhibition was held in Amsterdam. Dobuzhinsky participated in organization of the exhibition of the group Mir Iskusstva (“World of Art”) in Paris.  Since 1925 Dobuzhinsky worked as a scene-designer in Leningrad State Theatre (LGT) and many European theatres. In different years he designed for Leningrad State Theatre (LGT) the opera by P. I. Chaykovsky The Queen of Spades (1925), opera by M. P. Mussorgsky Boris Godunov, opera by R. Wagner Tangeizer (1930), ballet by A. K. Glazunov Raimonda, opera by A. P. Borodin Prince Igor (1934) and many others. In 1931 Dobuzhinsky was appointed design director of Leningrad State Theatre.  Dobuzhinsky also designed different performances at the Theatres De La Monnaie and Du Parc in Brussels, at Riga Opera, at Düsseldorf theatre, at Czechoslovakia national theatre.  Since 1928 Dobuzhinsky was engaged in cinematograph; he designed the screen version Fertility after the novel by E. Zola The Earth for Paris firm Central Cinema. In 1937 he lived in Paris in order to work on the film.  In 1938 M. A. Chekhov proposed Dobuzhinsky to create design for the performance The Possessed after the novel by F. M. Dostoevsky Demons. Since that time there was an American period in creative work of the master. Dobuzhinsky cooperated with the Chekhov Theatre Studio. In 1939 Dobuzhinsky moved to USA in order to continue the work on the performance.  In January 1940 Dobuzhinsky successfully passed the examinations for scene-designer and set designer. He became a member of the Unions of theatre artists and designers in America. At that time he painted several surrealistic compositions (Undine, Four winds) and designed performances at the Metropolitan Opera (G. Verdi A Masked Ball, 1941), American Ballet Caravan (Ballet Imperial, music by Chaykovsky, 1941), at the theatre American Ballet (Russian Soldiers, music by S. S. Prokofiev, 1942) etc.  In 1943 Dobuzhinsky painted a series of landscapes dedicated to besieged Leningrad.  In 1945 he wrote scenario and drew scene designs for the ballet Leningrad Symphony, music by D. D. Shostakovich (not implemented).  After World War II, Dobuzhinsky lived in France, wrote a book of his memories. Then he moved to New York, where he designed the opera by S. S. Prokofiev Love to three oranges at the Central City Opera in New York and the opera by M. P. Mussorgsky Khovanshchina at the Metropolitan Opera.  In his later years Dobuzhinsky lived mostly in Europe: in Paris, London, Rome. He collaborated with the Italian theatres. At Milan theatre La Scala he designed the ballet Mademoiselle Angot (1953); in Naples theatre San Carlo — the opera by Chaykovsky Eugene Onegin (1954); in London — the ballet by L. Delibes Coppelia in the theatre Marie Rambert.  In the autumn of 1957 Dobuzhinsky went to USA in order to renew his passport. In November of the same year Dobuzhinsky was died in the house of his younger son in New York.  Dobuzhinsky was a painter and graphic artist, talented and prolific scene-designer, master of interior decoration, book illustrator and writer. In different years he illustrated The Lay of the Host of Igor; Don Carlos by F. Schiller; Poor Liza by N. M. Karamzin; Mistress into Maid, Count Nulin and The Miserly Knight by A. S. Pushkin; Treasurer’s wife, Poems (edition 1941) by M. Y. Lermontov; White nights by F. M. Dostoevsky; The three fat man by Y. Olesha and many others.  About 50 exhibitions of Dobuzhinsky’s works were held in America and Europe: in Paris (1926, 1929), Amsterdam (1928), Brussels (1928, 1931), Copenhagen (1929), Kaunas (1925, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1937, and 1939), Riga (1925, 1930, and 1937), London (1935, 1936, 1955, and 1957), Montreal (1943, 1944) and in New York (1941, 1945, 1946, 1950, 1951).  Posthumous exhibitions were held in London (1959), Leningrad (1965), Spoleto (1971), Vilnius (1963, 1975), in Moscow (1975), and in New York (1979).  Works by Mstislav Dobuzhinsky are in many museum and private collections, including the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Russian Museum, and the Bakhmeteff Archive (Columbia University, New York).
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