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(b Moscow, 22 Nov. [4 Dec.] 1866; d Neuilly-sur-Seine, 13 Dec. 1944). Russian-born painter, printmaker, designer, teacher, and writer, who became a German citizen in 1927 and a French citizen in 1939, one of the most important figures in the development of abstract art, as a theoretician as well as a practitioner. He abandoned a promising university career teaching law, partly under the impact of an exhibition in Moscow of French Impressionists, at which one of Monet's Haystack pictures made a powerful impression on him, and in 1896 he moved to Munich to study painting. Munich was to be the centre of his activities until 1914, but he travelled widely in this period and spent a year in Paris, 1906–7. His pictures at the turn of the century combined features of Art Nouveau with reminiscences of Russian folk art, to which he added a Fauve-like intensity of colour.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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