The Art of Boris Artzybasheff; November 1993; Scientific American Magazine; by Domenic J. Iacono; 6 Page(s)
A generation of magazine readers during and immediately following World War II fell under the spell of the anthropomorphic machines created by Boris Artzybasheff. Artzybasheff liked machines. He admired their power to take on the labor men and women had toiled under for centuries. "I would rather watch," he explained, "a thousand-ton dredge dig a canal than see it done by a thousand spent slaves lashed into submission." But he was troubled by the other side of humanity 's affair with machines--the destruction it worked with its inventions.
Born in 1899 in Kharkov, Ukraine, Artzybasheff came of age during the Russian Revolution. In 1919, after five months of ffghting the Communists with the Ukrainian army, he escaped to the Black Sea, where he boarded a ship headed for New York. He spent his 20th birthday on Ellis Island. The young artist soon found employment in New York City as an engraver, fashioning labels for beer and medicine bottles, and began to establish a reputation for creative design. Some of his early commissions included stage sets for the Ziegfeld Theater and Michel Fokine's Russian Ballet and a mural for a 57th Street speakeasy. Eventually he turned his attention to illustrating books, for which he won many awards, including the John Newbery Award from the American Library Association.