AT THE BALLET LAST WEEKEND, they held a small display of Russian dolls and other objects for sale along with the programs. The colors and patterns, with their assortment of shapes in bold outlines, piqued my interest in Russian folk art, leading me to the work of Ivan Bilibin, Russian illustrator extraordinaire with a Slavic folkloric flair.
Born this month in 1876 and studied as a lawyer and artist, Ivan Bilibin came to be known instead as a storybook illustrator and stage designer, whose body of work includes costume design, poster design, revolutionary cartoons, and interior decoration for Orthodox churches and private homes. In the 1920's, he lived and worked in Egypt and Paris, respectively, and returned to his homeland a decade later, where he taught as a graphic arts professor until his death in 1942.
It fascinates me to know about careers of illustrators and designers, seeing the scope of their work and fantasizing about having the same breadth for my own "oeuvre". Eventually. But with more and more present-day occurrences of very young people producing fat and fantastic portfolios, a girl in her late 20's can't help but long for that same artistic accomplishment not later in life, but now.
Times like these, I remind myself that it's not quantity but quality that counts. Bit by bit, it should add up. Eventually.
Various works by Ivan Bilibin. Images from www.wikipaintings.org