About this artist
Source: Oxford University Press
Russian graphic artist, painter and stage designer. He first studied art from 1885 to 1887 at the School of the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, St Petersburg, and then enrolled in St Petersburg University from where he graduated in Law in 1898. Unwilling to give up his early interest in art, in 1899 he went to Munich to study under Anton Ažbé and Simon Hollósy and met there the large colony of Russian artists, including Igor’ Grabar’. He also saw the work of German Jugendstil artists.
Dobuzhinsky returned to St Petersburg in 1901, and in 1902 he was invited by Grabar’ to join the World of Art (Mir Iskusstva) group in 1902. His first works were historical landscapes in the manner of Alexandre Benois, but he soon began to portray the specific traits of the contemporary industrialized city and its suburbs, in both paintings and prints. In Man in Glasses (1905–6; Moscow, Tret’yakov Gal.), a portrait of the poet and art critic Konstantin A. Syunnerberg (1871–1942), who wrote under the pseudonym Konst. Erberg, factory chimneys seen through the windows contrast sharply with the figure of the poet and his books. One of Dobuzhinsky’s most telling images, October Idyll, an illustration in the satirical journal Zhupel, i (1905), shows a blood-spattered wall, a doll, a single shoe and a pair of glasses to commemorate the brutal response to the political uprisings of 1905. From 1907 he was active as stage designer, teacher and book illustrator. He left Russia in 1924 for Lithuania, and he subsequently lived in Europe and the USA, where he continued to work on stage designs and painted street scenes, which often focused on the new industrialized suburbs. He produced a series of drawings called City Dreams (1906–c. 1913; see Gusarova, pls 43–6), which include fantastic and sometimes menacing elements. Even after he left Russia, his stage designs were often for works by Russian composers, including the opera Khovanshchina by Modest Musorgsky, produced at the Metropolitan Opera, New York, in 1950 (see Gusarova, pl. 143).
From Grove Art Online