Boris Anisfeld: Paintings and Stage Designs, 1906-1926

Exhibition of Paintings and Theater Designs by Boris Anisfeld

Once-Prominent Russian Artist Became American Stage and Costume Designer


The Art Gallery of The Graduate Center's upcoming exhibition "Boris Anisfeld: Paintings and Stage Designs, 1906-1926" will feature one of the most remarkable, although largely forgotten artists of the twentieth century. Encompassing 50 works done in various media, the exhibition will run from December 4, 2003, through January 17, 2004. The opening will be held Wednesday, December 3, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The Art Gallery is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 12 to 6pm. The Graduate Center of the City University of New York is located at 365 Fifth Avenue (at 34th Street).

Boris Anisfeld (1879-1973) is best known for his colorful and expressive paintings and for his work as a stage and costume designer for the Metropolitan Opera and Chicago Civic Opera. Born in Bieltsy, Bessarabia, now the Republic of Moldova, Anisfeld was acknowledged as one of Russia's most prominent artists from 1906 until his departure in 1917. In 1918, just ten months after his arrival in New York, Anisfeld was given a large retrospective exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum which subsequently traveled to nine American cities, generating both praise and controversy. The following year he signed a contract with an important New York gallery and received the first of a series of prestigious commissions for productions at the Metropolitan Opera.

Throughout most of the 1920s, while creating numerous set designs and costumes for ballet and opera, Anisfeld painted and exhibited his work in galleries and museums and was awarded a gold medal at the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial Exhibition of 1926. In 1929 he was offered a teaching position at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where he remained until 1957, influencing and inspiring generations of young painters, including Jack Beal, Leon Golub, Leroy Neiman, Robert Indiana, Red Grooms, and Claes Oldenburg.

The Graduate Center is the doctorate-granting institution of The City University of New York. The only consortium of its kind in the nation, The Graduate Center draws its faculty of more than 1,600 members mainly from the CUNY senior colleges and cultural and scientific institutions throughout New York City.

Established in 1961, The Graduate Center has grown to an enrollment of about 3,900 students in 30 doctoral programs and six master's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences. The Graduate Center also houses 28 research centers and institutes, administers the CUNY Baccalaureate Program, and offers a wide range of continuing education and cultural programs of interest to the general public.

According to the most recent National Research Council report, more than a third of The Graduate Center's rated Ph.D. programs rank among the nation's top 20 at public and private institutions (including the Ph.D. Program in Art History), nearly a quarter are among the top ten when compared to publicly supported institutions alone, and more than half are among the top five programs at publicly supported institutions in the northeast.

Read the catalogue essay by Diane Kelder, Curator, Art Gallery of The Graduate Center and Professor Emerita, Ph.D. Program in Art History.

Submitted on: DEC 4, 2003

Category: James Gallery