Born in Tsarist Russia, Smirnoff became a Franco-Russian cubist. His family escaped to France in 1917 but Boris stayed to study art in Petrograd and worked at the Meyerhold Theatre. In 1926 he fell under the spell of Pavel Filonov and the new ‘Analytical Art’ movement. He moved to France in 1927 and studied with Lucien Simon and the l’École de Beaux-arts, Paris. As a result of much of his pre-war work being burned by the German army as degen er ate he subsequently worked on paper as the works were ‘easy to carry off in a crisis’. After the war he lived and worked all over Europe and the Far East, finally settling in Russia where died aged one hundred and four. The Boris Smirnoff Foundation was organised to manage his collection. He exhibited extensively worldwide, but in line with his old master Filonov, he refused to sell his work up to his dying day.
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