Marie Vassilieff was born in Smolensk, Russia. In 1903 she gave up studies
in medicine and entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg.
In 1906 she traveled to Paris to continue her studies.
In 1907 Vassilieff began her studies with Henri Matisse. Then in 1910
along with several other Russian artists she founded the Russian Academy
of Painting and Sculpture, she became the director.
Also in 1910 Vassilieff exhibited her works for the first time at the
Salon des Indépendants, and the Salon d’Automne. She continued
to exhibit at this salon regularly.
In 1912 Vassilieff founded her own academy, called Académie Vassilieff,
it was located on the Avenue du Maine in Montparnasse. This place became
her atelier, and it was the meeting place of the most important members
of the modern art community. She was associated with the artists of
the Bateau Lavoir, she was friends with Leger and Picasso. Vassilieff
painted many Cubist works during this period.
During World War One, Vassilieff worked on an ambulance for the French
Army. She also had a canteen for artists on the second floor of her
academy. In 1915 she exhibited in Saint Petersburg. In 1916 she organized
a banquet in the honor of Georges Braque at her “Cantine des Artistes.”
In 1920 Vassilieff collaborated with designer Paul Poiret creating a
series of puppets for the Ballets Suédois.
In 1921, Vassilieff participated in a London exhibition of Russian Arts
and Crafts at the Whitechapel Gallery. She participated in many exhibitions
and in 1925, she created Baroque furniture for ‘’Exposition
Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderne at
the Grand Palais in Paris, and she participated in the Bal de la Grande
In 1927 she created two panels at La Coupole, a huge Art Deco brasserie
on the Boulevard Montparnasse. She continued to exhibit at the Salon
des Tuileries until 1938.
Vassilieff created marionettes for The Marionette Congress in Chicago
in 1931. In 1937 she designed her illuminated costumes “Sonnet
aux Voyelle” for the Théâtre d’Art et Essai
de Louise Lara at l’Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques
dans la Vie Moderne. She also painted panels for the railroad at the
Always a true modernist, Vassilieff was among the Parisian avant-garde
that left a legacy in passion and ingenuity. In her paintings, costume
designs, and her incredible puppets, she expressed her unique creativity.
Vassilieff’s atelier is now the Musée Montparnasse, nestled
in a charming vine covered ally on the Avenue du Maine. This museum
is dedicated to the artists of Montparnasse.