Marie Vassilieff

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Femme Assise, oil painting by Marie Vassilieff, 1910 Femme assise by Marie Vassilieff 1910.jpg
Femme Assise, oil painting by Marie Vassilieff, 1910

Mariya Ivanovna Vassiliéva (Russian: Мария Ивановна Васильева), (12 February 1884 14 May 1957), better known as Marie Vassilieff, was a Russian Empire painter.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Russian Empire former country, 1721–1917

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia or simply Russia, was an empire that existed across Eurasia and North America from 1721, following the end of the Great Northern War, until the Republic was proclaimed by the Provisional Government that took power after the February Revolution of 1917.

She moved to Paris at the age of twenty-three and became an integral part of the artistic community on its left bank called, Montparnasse. [1]

Montparnasse administrative quarter in Paris, France

Montparnasse is an area of Paris, France, on the left bank of the river Seine, centered at the crossroads of the Boulevard du Montparnasse and the Rue de Rennes, between the Rue de Rennes and boulevard Raspail. Montparnasse has been part of Paris since 1669.

She was born in Smolensk, Russia to a prosperous family who encouraged her to study medicine. Her natural instincts, however, were for the arts and, in 1903 she switched to the study of art at the Academy in St. Petersburg. 1905 she visited the artistic capital of the world, Paris, France.

Smolensk City in Smolensk Oblast, Russia

Smolensk is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers (220 mi) west-southwest of Moscow. Population: 326,861 (2010 Census); 325,137 (2002 Census); 341,483 (1989 Census).

Two years later, she moved to Paris, taking a job as a correspondent for several Russian newspapers while studying painting under Henri Matisse and attending classes at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts.

Henri Matisse French artist

Henri Émile Benoît Matisse was a French artist, known for both his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter. Matisse is commonly regarded, along with Pablo Picasso, as one of the artists who best helped to define the revolutionary developments in the visual arts throughout the opening decades of the twentieth century, responsible for significant developments in painting and sculpture.

École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts National School of Fine Arts in Paris, France

The École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) is a fine arts grand school of PSL Research University in Paris, France.

In 1908 she founded the Académie Russe (Russian Academy), which was renamed the following year as, the Académie Vassilieff.

Marie Vassilieff Studio, Paris, until 2015 the Musee du Montparnasse Marie VStudio.jpg
Marie Vassilieff Studio, Paris, until 2015 the Musée du Montparnasse

In 1912 she opened her own atelier in Montparnasse. It became the nexus for those at the cutting-edge of art at the time, when Erik Satie, Henri Matisse, Nina Hamnett, Amedeo Modigliani, Ossip Zadkine, Olga Sacharoff, Juan Gris, and Chaim Soutine started dropping by in the evenings for conversation and occasionally to draw.

Studio artist’s or photographer’s workshop

A studio is an artist or worker's workroom. This can be for the purpose of acting, architecture, painting, pottery (ceramics), sculpture, origami, woodworking, scrapbooking, photography, graphic design, filmmaking, animation, industrial design, radio or television production broadcasting or the making of music. The term is also used for the workroom of dancers, often specified to dance studio.

State-of-the-art refers to the highest level of general development, as of a device, technique, or scientific field achieved at a particular time. It also refers to such a level of development reached at any particular time as a result of the common methodologies employed at the time.

Erik Satie French composer and pianist

Éric Alfred Leslie Satie, who signed his name Erik Satie after 1884, was a French composer and pianist. Satie was an influential artist in the late 19th- and early 20th-century Parisian avant-garde. His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd.

Before long the walls of Marie Vassilieff's atelier held a collection of paintings by Marc Chagall and Modigliani, drawings by Picasso and Fernand Léger, and in a corner, sat a sculpture by Zadkine.

Marc Chagall French artist and painter

Marc Zakharovich Chagall was a Russian-French artist of Belarusian Jewish origin. An early modernist, he was associated with several major artistic styles and created works in virtually every artistic format, including painting, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramic, tapestries and fine art prints.

Amedeo Modigliani Italian painter and sculptor

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani was an Italian Jewish painter and sculptor who worked mainly in France. He is known for portraits and nudes in a modern style characterized by elongation of faces, necks, and figures that were not received well during his lifetime but later found acceptance. Modigliani spent his youth in Italy, where he studied the art of antiquity and the Renaissance. In 1906 he moved to Paris, where he came into contact with such artists as Pablo Picasso and Constantin Brâncuși. By 1912 Modigliani was exhibiting highly stylized sculptures with Cubists of the Section d'Or group at the Salon d'Automne.

Pablo Picasso 20th-century Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer

Pablo Ruiz Picasso was a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright who spent most of his adult life in France. Regarded as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, he is known for co-founding the Cubist movement, the invention of constructed sculpture, the co-invention of collage, and for the wide variety of styles that he helped develop and explore. Among his most famous works are the proto-Cubist Les Demoiselles d'Avignon (1907), and Guernica (1937), a dramatic portrayal of the bombing of Guernica by the German and Italian airforces during the Spanish Civil War.

By 1913, her studio was so widely known that Fernand Léger gave two lectures there on the topic of Modern art.

What Marie Vassilieff is most remembered for, however, is her canteen that operated before and during World War I. She volunteered as a nurse in the French Red Cross and saw how badly the financial situation had become for many of the artists of Paris who were already struggling. Because many of her artist acquaintances frequently had little or nothing to eat, in 1915, she opened the canteen that provided a full meal and a glass of wine for only a few centimes.

While her canteen provided a valuable service, during the war it became a popular gathering place for the artistic community. During the war a government curfew was put into place. The restaurants and cafés of Paris all were obliged to close early, however, Marie Vassilieff's canteen was licensed as a private club and, therefore, not subject to the curfew. As a result, soon her place became crowded and at night, filled with music and dancing.

In January 1917, Georges Braque, who had been wounded fighting in World War I, was released from military service. Marie Vassilieff and Max Jacob decided to organize a dinner for Braque and his wife, Marcelle. Among the guests was Alfredo Pina with his new companion, Beatrice Hastings, who had recently ended her two-year relationship with Amedeo Modigliani. Knowing Modigliani's penchant for causing a disturbance when he drank, and that he drank often, Marie Vassilieff did not invite Modigliani to Braque's party. The art community was small, however, and word of the get-together soon reached Modigliani. An uninvited, and very drunk, Modigliani showed up, looking for a fight. A scuffle ensued, a pistol appeared, and Marie Vassilieff, all five feet of her, pushed Modigliani downstairs while Pablo Picasso and Manuel Ortiz de Zarate locked the door. Marie Vassilieff made what is now a very famous drawing depicting the events of the evening.

Marie Vassilieff's own artwork is primarily in the Cubist style, her most interesting paintings are portraits of dancers as well as those of her friends, Jean Cocteau, Picasso, and Matisse. Known, too, for her decorative furniture pieces and her doll-portraits, Vassilieff's works remain very popular. Although her works never gained the lofty stature or astounding prices of some of her renowned contemporaries, today they may be found in museums and private collections worldwide.

As both an artist and friend, Marie Vassilieff was an integral part of the great creative community of Montparnasse, where today one may still see her ornamental panels, created in 1927 for the pillars in the dining room of the La Coupole.

After several exhibitions in London in 1928 and 1930, and in Italy in 1929, she opened the Vassilieff Museum. Friends with Alfred Jarry, she organized a homage to him.

Marie Vassilieff died at a home for elderly artists in Nogent-sur-Marne, Île-de-France, France.

In 1998, the Musée du Montparnasse was opened in Marie Vassilieff's old studio. The museum closed in 2015. [2]

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  1. Marie Vassilieff:A Splash of Montparnasse Color, New York Times retrieved January 17, 2010
  2. "Musée du Montparnasse Shut by the City of Paris". Artnet News. January 26, 2015. Retrieved 12 February 2017.