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Boris Anisfeld – virtuoso of theatrical scenery
 
Boris Israëlevich (Ber Srulevich) Anisfeld was born in Bieltsy, in the Russian province of Bessarabia (now – Moldova), into the Jewish family of Srul Ruvinovich Anisfeld and Gitlya Istkovna Anisfeld. His parents supported his interest in art from earcly childhood, and that made it possible for him to enter the Odessa Drawing School in 1895 without any formal education. Later he enrolled into the prestigious Imperial Academy of Arts in St. Petersburg, where he studied under I. A. Repin.
 
In 1906 Anisfeld made his first foray into the Paris artistic scene, participating in exhibitions and meeting Sergei Dyaghilev. Very soon he found himself gaining recognition and traveling between Moscow, St. Petersburg, Paris, Berlin and Madrid. One of his watercolors, Flowers, was bought by the world-famous Tretyakov Gallery. 
 
Several years later Anisfeld undertook his first work for the theater, creating the stage sets for Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s Marriage of Zobeide, at Kommissarzhevskaya’s theater, with Meyerhold directing...
 
Soon afterwards his old acquaintance Dyaghilev asked him to create designs for his Russian Seasons program. Then he was approached by Michael Fokine with a commission for Chaikovsky’s ballet The Four Seasons.
 
Anisfeld married Frieda Glaeserman in 1908, and soon she gives him his only child, daughter Morella. 
 
In 1917, at the invitation of the Brooklyn Museum, he creates eight major paintings and brings them to New York during his first visit to America. With the revolution erupting in Russia, he takes his wife and little daughter, packs up and runs for Vladivostok, crossing the whole of unending Russia, then Yokohama (Japan), then on to Vancouver (Canada) and finally arrives in New York.
 
The year 1926 was notable to Anisfeld because of three important events: first, he becomes an American citizen, and second, he wins a gold medal from the Philadelphia exposition for his painting Hispania, and third, he is commissioned to design costumes for two productions of Mikhail Mordkin’s famous Russian Ballet.
 
The next three decades Anisfeld dedicates to teaching young talents at the Art Institute of Chicago and at his own art school, Boris Anisfeld's School of Painting. 
 
Boris Anisfeld died in his home in New London, Connecticut at age 95.
 
Sources
Boris Anisfeld, Catalogue Raisonné
Boris Anisfeld. The Kingore Galleries, New York 1919

 


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