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Dimitry Merinoff, Landscape 1

Dimitry Merinoff, Red I

Dimitry Merinoff, Red III

Dimitry Merinoff

Born in Pskov, near St. Petersburg, in 1896, Dimitry Merinoff made his first attempt to paint with toothpaste as a very young child. He began to draw at age six and went on to receive a classical education in art at the Roerich School in St. Petersburg. He later studied at the Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratifs in France, spending endless hours copying at the Louvre and earning both first and second prize.

Merinoff served in the Russian army during World War I, and later in the French army. During his time in France, he became acquainted with such cultural luminaries as the poet Paul Valery, the painter Chaim Soutine and the philosopher Emile Chartier. He first trained as a sculptor in wood, making furniture as well as panels on commission for town halls, churches, stores and railway stations. Merinoff also completed frescoes and created woodblock prints from which beautiful fabrics were designed; one of which was used by Chanel for two seasons. Merinoff's studio in Passy was a symphony in ochre: walls, fabrics, flowers, straw mats and sculpted Greek masks all glowed pink, with only traces of white and vermillion. The artist himself was a radiant, vital man who loved the cinema, opera and ballet.

Merinoff and his wife, Rose, fled Paris two days before the German occupation during World War II. They traveled first by car and then later by bicycle, settling in a village near Lot et Garonne. At this point in time, Merinoff's work became more abstract and expressionist, following an early vein of tachisme. The couple migrated to New York in 1947, and the artist had his first American show in 1948 at the Feigl Gallery on Madison Avenue. A sojourn in Provincetown that year resulted in new explorations of texture, in which he abandoned a flat surface for collage or paintings in relief.

Merinoff's last body of work, executed in the 1960's, was centered upon the color red and demonstrated an enthusiastic and self-assured passage in his career. Renting studios in Southampton or Water Mill, Long Island, he gravitated towards a color that embodied "America" but also held a certain mystique. An avid lover of the beach, Merinoff would spend many hours walking along the shore to gather branches or wood to incorporate into these paintings.

Dimitry Merinoff died in 1971. By request, his ashes were scattered on a remote island up in Maine … near the sea.