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Mstislav Dobuzhinsky exhibition “Scenography in Lithuanian Theatre”

Date: 6 June 2019 00:00 - 11 July 2019 00:00


M. K. Čiurlionis Memorial Museum, M. K. Čiurlionis str. 35, Druskininkai,

Mstislav Dobuzhinsky exhibition “Scenography in Lithuanian Theatre”

Lithuanian Theater, Music and Cinema Museum keeps the collection of M. Dobuzhinsky, which comprises more than one thousand of his works – the most valuable collection of scenography sketches, and the largest collection of theater art by this author. The collection was recognized as a documentary heritage of national significance and included into Lithuanian National Memory of the World Register, under the UNESCO programme “The Memory of the World“. A small part of the collection is presented in this exhibition, which contains the most significant and mature works of the artist, created especially for the Lithuanian theatre. Among them – the examples of excellent Dobuzhinsky's knowledge of history and the ability to interpret historical sources: sketches from Piotr Tchaikovsky's opera "Eugene Onegin" (1936) and Modest Musorgsky's "Boris Godunov" (1930), Charles Gounod's "Faust" (1931), which is close to the lines and transparency of music. One of the best works of the artist, surpassing the opera music, dramaturgy and staging with its artistic and emotional excitement is the scenography of “Radvila Perkūnas” (1937) by Jurgis Karnavičius. The painter moved the architectural motifs of Vilnius to stage and revealed the variety of clothing in Lithuania. Moreover, M. Dobuzhinsky unfolded as a literary expert in the costumes and characters of “Andersen’s Tales” by Vera Smirnova.

M. Dobužinskis. Sketch of costume of Alexander Glazunov's ballet "Raimonda"

The exhibition comprises works from twelve plays of the State Theater. Many of these scenography sketches were shown at the exhibitions not only in Lithuania, but also in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Minsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Kaliningrad, Gdansk, Turin.

M. Dobuzhinsky was born in 1875, August 15, Novgorod. In 1895 he graduated from Vilnius Second Secondary School of Boys and in the same year joined the Law Faculty of the University of St. Petersburg. In the beginning of the 20th century, in St. Petersburg, the artist met a composer, painter and graphic artist Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis. They soon became good friends. Dobuzhinsky was one of the first to estimate Čiurlionis' originality, helped him making bonds with members from St. Petersburg Artists and Musicians’ Associations; participated in exhibitions, organized by the “Art World” and Russian Artists’ Union in St. Petersburg and Moscow.

With the help of J. Baltrušaitis, Dobuzhinsky was granted the Lithuanian citizenship in 1925. Since 1929, he was supervising the Studies of Graphic Art and Decorative Painting at Kaunas Art School. The most important contribution to Lithuanian Culture that Dobuzhinsky have made is the scenography and costumes for 38 performances, created in the State Theater.

M. Dobužinskis.  Sketch of the curtain of the Jurgis Karbnavičius opera “Radvila Perkūnas” 

Working in St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Paris, Dobuzhinsky was one of the most prominent and active artists in Lithuanian professional Theatre of the 20th century. He became a sign of aesthetic principles of theatrical art, which helped him to change the attitude towards scenography, its problems and goals. One of the most important features of M. Dobuzhinsky’s work was the ability to create a performance as an artistic whole, by combining the ideas of the director and the artist. Also retrospectivism – in many stage performances, the artist sought to reveal the spirit of the epoch and its style by the forms of old architecture, costumes of the protagonists, various details.

In 1938, the artist went to London, and in 1939 moved to the USA, where he worked in various artistic fields, organized exhibitions, created architectural landscapes, decorated film productions, and created scenography for theaters. Dobuzhinsky returned to Europe in 1947. Visited Paris, London, Switzerland, for nearly two years he worked at Milan's “La Scala“ and Naples “San Carlo“ theaters in Italy. He wrote memoirs. The artist died in New York, 1957, November 22.


The Exhibition is Open from the 6th of June to 11th of July.