Boris Artzybasheff

I just received a belated Christmas present: As I See: The Fantastic World of Boris Artzybasheff. The book collects Artzybasheff’s folios and includes his notes on them. Some of Artzybasheff’s work has appeared here before in the post on The Circus of Doctor Lao which Artzybasheff illustrated, but there’s much much more to say about this man’s work.

click to embiggen

"The Last Fly" from Verotchka's Tales, 1922

Artzybasheff was born in Kharkiv in 1899. He claimed later that he fought with the Ukraine White Army as a machine-gunner and that might be true. At any rate, in 1919, he wound up working in New York for a print company. Soon he began illustrating books and, in 1928, Gay-Neck: The Story of A Pigeon won the Newbery Award.

click to embiggen

"The Goose and the Golden Eggs",Aesop's Fables, 1933

After 1940, Artzybasheff ceased book illustration and concentrated on commercial work: posters, advertisements, and 200 or so covers for Time magazine.

Anthropomorphized chassis, circa 1951

Artzybasheff’s anthropomorphized machines have attracted a great deal of interest over the years but his portraits, satiric and political drawings are well worth study. Boris Artzybasheff died 1964.

"Stalin", painting for Time Man of the Year 1942 (printed January, 1943)

Mechanix Illustrated article 1952

click to embiggen

"Plowman, plowman, what of thy hands?" Diablerie, circa 1949

click to embiggen

"We are getting to the bottom of it", Neurotica, circa 1952


Shell oil ad, 1953

For more Artzybasheff:

B/W book illustration: wiki
Machines: a series of posts by lord_k at 1, 2, 3, 4
Time covers: via Google, Dieselpunks album
War: themafucage gallery
Neurotica: complete folio
American Art Archives


9 comments on “Boris Artzybasheff

  1. You’re right, his images are terrific. So thank you, I’d never heard of him before. But what is the background to the spider and the fly picture? The spider looks Jewish, and in the 1920s, it would be sad, but not surprising, if his work was anti-Semitic. Can you tell me any more?

    • mikulpepper says:

      You can read the story for yourself: complete Verotchka’s Tales. It isn’t anti-semitic, nor, I think, is the drawing — more satanic or devilish (the spider tries to tempt the fly into his web), but that brings up Trachtenberg’s The Devil and the Jews and the idea that the one visual concept fed the other.

  2. nursemyra says:

    What a fascinating artist. i love the Stalin portrait

  3. thenamesmcnally says:

    Interesting to come upon this post so late. I knew Artzybasheff’s only nephew and heir. I spent years looking at Boris’ original work (and in fact own a few works). We donated the remainder to Syracuse after the nephew died.

  4. […] words. Check out the complete poem. And if you want to see some fantastic illustrations, visit Shrine of Dreams for much more from Boris Artzybasheff, the Ukrainian-born illustrator who became an award-winning […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s