Boris Artzybasheff (Борис Михайлович Арцыбашев) (1899-1965)
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Boris Artzybasheff was a Russian-born illustrator active in America, notable for his strongly worked and often surreal designs. Artzybasheff was born in Kharkiv, Russia (now in Ukraine), the son of Mikhail Petrovich Artzybashev. He is said to have fought as a White Russian. In 1919 he arrived in New York City, where he worked in an engraving shop.
His earliest work appeared in 1922 as illustrations for Verotchka's Tales and The Undertaker's Garland. A number of other book illustrations followed during the 1920s. Dhan Gopal Mukerji's Gay-Neck, with his illustrations, was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1928. Over the course of his career, he illustrated some 50 books, several of which he wrote, most notably As I See.
During his lifetime, however, Artzybasheff was probably best-known for his magazine art. He illustrated the major American magazines Life, Fortune, and Time (including more than 200 Time Magazine covers over a 24-year span between 1941 and 1965). During World War II, he also served as an expert advisor to the U.S. Department of State, Psychological Warfare Branch.
After 1940, he devoted himself to commercial art, including advertisements for Xerox, Shell Oil, Pan Am, Casco Power Tools, Alcoa Steamship lines, Parke Davis, Avco Manufacturing, Scotch Tape, Wickwire Spencer Steele, Vultee Aircraft, World Airways, and Parker Pens.
His graphic style is striking, to put it mildly. In his commercial work, he explored grotesque experiments in anthropomorphism, where toiling machines displayed distinctly human personalities. In his personal work, he explored the depiction of vivid and extreme ranges of human psychology and emotion. His papers are collected at Syracuse University.
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