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MARIE VASSILIEFF (1884-1957) Chimera
Figure made of wire, plastic, leather, animal teeth and fabric 34 x 9 x 21 cm Provenance: Private collection, France Maria Vasilyeva (better known as Marie Vassilieff) was born in 1884 and studied medicine and art in St. Petersburg. In 1905, thanks to a travel subsidy granted by Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, she came to Paris, where she settled permanently in 1907. In Paris, Marie worked as a correspondent for Russian newspapers and continued her artistic education with Henri Matisse. Soon, Marie Vassilieff opened her own studio in Montparnasse, which at the time attracted many artists and foreigners, and in 1912 she set up the «Free Russian Academy» in her studio, then the «Academie Vassilieff». Marie Vassilieff’s studio became a meeting place and party venue for artists such as Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Nina Hamnett, Amedeo Modigliani, Osip Zadkine, Olga Sacharoff, Juan Gris, Eric Satie, Chaïm Soutine and many others. During World War I, Marie Vassilieff joined the French Red Cross as an ambulance driver and turned her studio, where she taught Cubism, into a canteen for emigrants and artists. Marie Vassilieff is known for her Cubist paintings, decorative furniture and rag or leather character dolls that made her famous in Berlin, New York and London, where Peggy Guggenheim invited her to an exhibition in November 1938. In July 1920, Marie Dormoy, a friend of the writer Paul Léautaud, wrote an article in “Art et decoration”, «New Dolls: «As for Marie Vassilieff, her dolls are true works of art. No one can go wrong, they have such a character that you can recognize them from a thousand. For each one she makes many sketches and, thanks to the power of modeling, the solidity of construction based on the best cubism, the constantly renewed technique, she asserts character, emphasizes heredity, creates characters endowed with feelings and passions, finally gives life to things...».