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Gennady Spirin

Gennady Spirin was born in the small town of Orekhove-Zuyevo, near Moscow, on December 25, 1948. His artistic talent was identified at an early age. He graduated from Surikov School of Fine Art at the Academy of Arts in Moscow and Moscow Stroganov Institute of Art. Over the years he developed his own unique style, combining traditional Russian contemporary art technique with the great traditions of the Renaissance.

In all of Spirin’s work, his sense of design and artistic skill elevate his illustration to the level of fine art, which showcase his fantasy characters in a lovely and lush environment.

Writing in The New York Times Book Review of November 10, 1991, Andrew Solomon said Mr. Spirin’s works "recall the Northern Renaissance in clarity of light, abundance of detail and enamel-like precision of color."

Kathy Viksjo writes in The Times on June 7, 1998: "He incorporates Raphael’s rich color—deep gold, blue and crimson reds—together with the Italian master’s classical compositions, into many of his illustrations. The microscopic precision of his super—realism recalls Flemish great Jan Van Eyck, while Spirin’s unbelievable graphic facility is like that of German Renaissance artist, Albert Durer…Even at first glance, viewers intuitively know that this is one of the masters of our time…Spirin is like a magician, using his paint brush as a wand."

In 1997 and 1998, Saks Fifth Avenue, the exclusive department store, has chosen Spirin’s depiction of the "Nutcracker" character from the classic tale by E.T.A. Hoffman recently republished by Stewart, Tabori and Chang, as the centerpiece of their famous holiday promotions in New York and Chicago, respectively.

His watercolor illustrations for children’s books have won critical praise and numerous awards for their vision of fairy-tale worlds extensively researched and exquisitely painted. The illustrator of 30 story books, Spirin was awarded the Golden Apple Award at the Biennale of Illustrations in Bratislava 1983 for "Marissa and Gnomes".

Since 1992 he has won four gold medals from the Society of Illustrators in New York for "Boots and the Glass Mountain" (1992), "The Children of Lir" (1993), "The Frog Princess" (1994) and "The Tale of Tsar Saltan" (1996). Four of his other books—"The Fool and the Fish" (1990), "Gulliver’s Travels in Lilliput" (1993), "Kashtanka" (1995) and "The Sea King’s Daughter" (1997) were named the best illustrated book of the year by the New York Times. In 1991 Spirin received the first prize "Fierra di Bologna" for his work in the book "Sorotchintzy Fair". His illustrations for "Kashtanka" were also bestowed with first prize in the 1994 "Premi International Catalonia D’illustracio" in Barcelona, Spain and a "Parent’s Choice Honor.

Mr. Spirin’s art is in public, private, and corporate collections including those of the Museum of Art, Milan, Italy, Cotsen Collection of Children’s Art at the Firestone Library of Princeton University, the Museum of the Franklin Mint and others.

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