Boris Bilinsky

Билинский, Борис Константинович

Graphic artist, designer

Born Benderii (Odessa), 21 September 1900

Died Catania (Sicily), 3 February 1948


Bilinski emigrated 1920 to Berlin and worked there for the Blue Bird cabaret. In 1923 he left for Paris where he worked for the theatre: L'Arc en Ciel. In 1927 he was commissioned by the French film distrinution company ACE to work on the production of poster and publicity materials for the release of Fritz Lang's movie Metroplis. In 1930, Bilinsky started his collaboration with the Russian Opera. His decors and costumes for Rouslan and Ludmila, Glinka's opera performed for the first time in France, made a hit even if they were sometimes criticized. From that time onwards, Boris Bilinsky would not stop working simultaneously for the cinema and the various ballets which succeeded to the Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (Russian Opera of Paris, Russian ballets of Monte Carlo, ballets of Olga Spessivtzeva, Bronislava Nijinska, etc.) In Paris in 1934 he created the ornamentation for the famous Russian cabaret Sheherazade rue de Liège. In May 1937, in London, as part of the festivities held on the occasion of the crowning of the new sovereigns (George VI), the opera Pelléas and Melisande by Debussy was performed at the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, with decors and costumes created by Boris Bilinsky.
At the outbreak of the war, he presented himself to the authorities like many other Russian émigrés, but being aged 39 and a breadwinner, his enlistment in the French army was refused. Bilinsky then went and settled in Rome with his wife, who was of Italian nationality. All through the war, as far as is known, he worked only in Italy, specially for the production company Titanus film. In 1946, during a stay in Paris with his wife for a film project, his disease broke out. Bilinsky returned to Italy and died in Catania on 3 February 1948.