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Alexander Arnshtam

16 May - 29 June 2000
Mikhailovsky Castle

Alexander Arnstam is a brilliant illustrator, painter and one of the firsrt Russian professional cinema artists. Alexander Arnstam was born into a family of a rich textile manufacturer in Moscow. In his childhood he showed interest to music, theatre, painting, played piano and violin, participated in amateur school performances. When he was 16 Arnstam took up painting in the workshop of Konstantin Yuon. In 1901 Arnstam went to Berlin to continue his education at the chemical department of the Kaiser Wilhelm University. He studied philosophy, anatomy,, attended lectures on history of art and music. After two years he moved to Moscow and entered the department of law at the University. In 1905 "Signal" the satirical magazine edited by Korney Chukovsky published several drawings by A.Arnstam .In 1907 the artist emigrated and worked in Switzerland and France. In Paris he took up painting at La Palette Academy and Grande Chaumiere. IN 1907 he came back to Russia and settled in Saint Petersburg. A.Arnstam worked at the "Griffin" publishing house as an artistic designer and illustrated books by M. Voloshin, I.Annensky,V. Nabokov, designed book covers and monographs dedicated to Anton Chekhov and Vera Komissarzhevskaya theatres, published his drawings in numerous magazines, contributed to "Graphic Art" exhibition," Permanent Exhibition of Contemporary Art", Dobychina Salon. In 1915-1917 he contributed to all exhibitions of the World of Art. After the October revolution the artist was offered the post of an art designer at the State Publishing House. In 1919 Alexander Arnstam was arrested by Cheka (secrete police) and kept in prison for a year in Shpalernaya street, then in Butirskaya prison in Moscow and Pokrovsk prison camp. At the end of 1921 Arnstam moved with his family to Berlin. The Berlin period is the most glorious page of the artist's biography. There he worked as an illustrator, portrait painter and turned to cinematography for the first time in 1928. First he was a consultant for the films on Russian themes, then he worked as production producer, sets and costumes designer. He took part in 10 full length film productions in Germany. After the Nazis came to power 1n1933 A. Arnstam moved to Paris where he lived till his last day. Several years of his life he devoted to the ballet "Nana" after Emile Zolya. He wrote the libretto, created the stage and costume designs.The first night performance of the ballet was in 1962. The artist died in Paris in 1969. The exhibition contained over 150 works of art ( paintings, graphics, archive documents and photo material) from the artist's family collection. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Center of Art Sociology.