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The artist was born on 26 April 1893 in Saint-Tropez, France. Dimitri Bouchène worked as a painter, graphic artist and scenographer.

Dimitri was a descendant of Huguenots who had settled in Russia under Catherine II. His father was Major General D. Bouchène (1856–1929). The boy was born in France, where his mother was receiving treatment for tuberculosis. Dimitri’s mother died young (1895), and then the boy was taken to St-Petersburg and was brought up in the family of his aunt Yekaterina Kuzmina- Karavayeva (née Bouchène).

He went to Paris, attended there Académie Ranson and got acquainted with M. Denis and H. Matisse. In 1913 Dimitri entered the department of History and Philology of St-Petersburg University. During his studies, he met Sergei Ernst, who was going to become an art scholar. The two men stayed friends for all his life. He also met the artists of “Mir Iskusstva” circle. While studying in university, he also attended Imperial Society for the Encouragement of the Arts painting school and attracted the attention of Nicholas Roerich, its director. In the times of revolution, A. N. Benois helped the young artist, let him live in his own apartment.

Since 1917, Bouchène took part in Petrograd exhibitions: «Mir Iskusstva» (January 1917, 1918, 1922, and 1924), «Russkiy Peyzazh» (1918 и 1919), 1st State Free Exhibition of Artwork (1919), bookplate exhibitions in Petrograd and Kazan (both in 1923), Russian Art exhibition in America (1924–1925). The artist exhibited still life, scenery designs and theatre-inspired compositions. He created bookplates, designed books for Akvilon publishing house: «Three Stories » by H. de Régnier (1922), «Venetian Glass » by A. N. Kube and “On Bronze” by P. Weiner (1923, covers). In 1918–1925 he worked as a junior curator in the porcelain and jewellery department of the Hermitage. In 1922 Z. Serebryakova painted his portrait.

In spring 1925 Dimitri settled in Paris with S. Ernst. There he painted small pictures in gouache and pastel: flowers, still life, landscapes of France, Italian cities, especially Venice, scenes of theatre and circus life. He took part in Russian art exhibitions in Paris galleries Bernheim-Jeune (1927), S. Lesnick (1928), V. Girchman (1929, 1930), d’Alignan (1931), La Renaissance (1932), and also in Brussels (1928), London (1935) and Prague (1935). He held personal exhibitions in Paris galleries Fabre (1928) and Drouot (1929, 1933, 1936, 1938). He donated his works for charity raffles to help Russian student youth (1928), poor members of “Mir Iskusstva” society (1930) etc. In late 1920-ies he developed textile prints and models for French fashion houses Patou, Ricci, Lanvan and Lelong. He designed costumes for Anna Pavlova and (1926) and Alisa Alanova (1931). Since mid-1930-ies he concentrated his attention on stage work, cherishing “Mir Iskusstva” traditions. He cooperated with choreographers: G. Balanchine, M. Fokine, L. Massine, K. Jooss, R. Petit, an especially with S. Lifar. Among his most famous scenic works are: costumes for Ida Rubinschtein in J. Ibert’s “Diane de Poitiers” and “Waltz” by M. Ravel (Grand Opéra, 1934), full scenography for ballets “Elements” with J.S. Bach music (Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo, London, 1937), «Coppélia» by L. Delibes (Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, 1946), “Divertissement” from the “Sleeping Beauty” by P. Tchaïkovsky (Grand Opéra, 1948; La Scala, 1953; Göteborg, Sweden, 1967), «Snow White» by M. Even (Grand Opéra, 1951), During World War II the artist stayed in Paris.

In 1950–1970-ies he exhibited paintings and theatre designs and theatre arts exhibitions. In 1971 his major personal exhibition took place in Paris gallery Proscenium.

His works can be seen in National Museum of Modern Art and in Opera Museum in Paris, in Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Metropolitan Museum in New York. Dimitri Bouchéne donated more than 50 works to Hermitage (shown in the exhibition “Gift of the Painter” in 1991).

The artist died on 6 February 1993 in Paris. He is buried on Montparnasse cemetery in the same tomb with S. Ernst.

Dimitri Bouchène biography

April 26, 1898
Saint-Tropez, France
February 6, 1993
Paris, France

Painter, graphic artist, scenographer


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