Russian-born painter and stage designer. Born in Moscow. In early youth made drawings influenced by the macabre Romanticism of Doré and Vrubel. Moved in 1918 after the Revolution to Kiev. Was encouraged by Alexandra Exter; attended courses at Kiev Academy and received private lessons from Tchakrigine and the painter and stage designer Rabinovitch. Painted in an abstract style. Left Russia in 1920 and spent 1921-3 in Berlin, where he had considerable success as a designer for the theatre and opera. Moved to Paris in 1923. Began to paint figures and portraits in restrained colours and with an air of reverie. Exhibited with Bérard, Eugène Berman and others at the Galerie Druet, Paris, in 1926, he and his friends becoming known as Neo-Romantics; first one-man exhibition at the Claridge Gallery, London, 1928. Designed sets and costumes for Diaghilev's Ode 1928 and other ballets and plays. Made some works akin to Surrealism and with violent distortions of perspective. Settled in the USA in 1934, but continued until the outbreak of war to spend the summers in Europe. Period of metamorphic works, followed by 'interior landscapes' of the human body and finally by space compositions. Lived mainly in Italy from 1949; died in Rome.
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, p.716