Friday, October 29, 2010

Russian Folk Art Meets Art Nouveau

Illustration for Russian Fairy Tales, Baba Yaga, Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, 1899

From Russia and the Slavic counties comes Baba Yaga, a witch who flies through the night sky in a mortar using a broom of silver birch to navigate. She lives in the forest in a log cabin that dances on chicken’s feet and is surrounded by a palisade of poles, each one holding up a human skull. She is the guardian between the real world and the land of the dead. Seeking her aid can be a very dangerous pursuit. And yet, it is said, that is just what the beautiful Vasilissa finds she must do.

Illustration for Russian Fairy Tales, Vasilissa the Beautiful, Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, 1899

Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin was a Russian illustrator and a set designer for the Ballets Russes. It was while traveling through the Russian north that he developed a passion for Russian folk arts. His renowned illustrations of Russian Fairy Tales were published in 1899. Resonating with the popular graphic arts of Europe during that period his art nouveau style was also influenced by Japanese prints. 

 Portrait of Ivan Yakovlevich Bilibin, Boris Kustodiey, 1901

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