Lines and Colors art blog

Gennady Spirin

Gennady Spirin
Russian born illustrator Gennady Spirin studied at the Moscow Art School and the Academy of Arts, as well as the Moscow Stroganov Institute, and currently resides in the U.S.

Spirin is the author and illustrator of a number of children’s books for which his illustrations have garnered awards in Europe and the U.S.

Spirin blends imagery and painting styles from the Renaissance with a modern design sensibility, and, to my eye, seasons it with influences from great turn of the 20th Century illustrators like Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Walter Crane, Kay Neilsen and Howard Pyle.

His meticulously detailed images are muted in color, rich with texture and marvelously evocative of other times and places. They often combine pictorial and decorative elements, in a way suggestive of both the Renaissance and Art Nouveau artists like Alphonse Mucha (also bringing to mind Russian illustrator Ivan Bilibin). There is a quality of finesse and attention to pictorial unity that gives Spirin’s paintings a quiet strength, drawing you in and guiding your eye through through the composition.

His work can have a feeling of timelessness, as though it was situated outside the stream of time and plucking elements from it at will.

(As a side note, it occurs to me that contemporary illustrators like Olga Dugina and Andrej Dugan may have been influenced by Spirin.)

Unfortunately I don’t know of a definitive repository of Spirin’s work on the web, or an official site, but I’ve gathered what resources I could find for you below.

[Suggestion courtesy of Don Green]

Addendum: another good resource was added to the list in the form of this blog post, with several of Spirin’s illustrations; which was found for us by Tat, who searched for Spirin’s name in Russian. (See this post’s comments.)


13 responses to “Gennady Spirin”

  1. One of my real modern favourites.

  2. Spirin is divine. I have several of his books, and was lucky enough to see an exhibition of his illustrations in Princeton.

    If I’m allowed to spam my own blog here – I scanned in images from one of his books:

  3. Spirin is definitely my favourite. I was also going to write something about him on my site, so it’s a nice surprise to see that someone had the same idea.

    However, have you heard about Igor Jerszow ? I can’t find anything about him.. all I know about him is that he once illustrated the book called Alonuszka – I’ve made a few photographs of it for my friend –

  4. I remember a friend that had The Tale of The Firebird. I always loved the intricate folk art border illustrations that Spirin does. Wonderful stuff.

  5. His illustrations are divine, allot of them are masterpieces in my opinion. Spirin is incredibly inspiring!

  6. I search by the artist’ name in Russian and found series of posts about him in this LiveJournal, with many excellent illustrations (check them under the fold).

  7. Also, you asked in the linked post about more information on Dugins, Olga and Andrej.
    One old site, of the times they lived in Germany, is here. Another, with the post and some illustrations about Dugins and Spirin (he’s their friend) –here.

    1. Thanks, Tat! I’ve added the links to both posts.

  8. Stephen Henderson Avatar
    Stephen Henderson

    Do you know what book (or if it is from a
    book) the top image is from? That is beautiful!

    1. Little Mermaids. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s in print.

  9. Stephen Henderson Avatar
    Stephen Henderson

    No problem, plenty of used copies there, thanks.

  10. buffalo kaplinski Avatar
    buffalo kaplinski

    GENNADY SPIRIN is AN ARTIST’S ARTIST ! WOW his WORK KNOCKS me out ! i don’t know when viewers look at his work that they realize how much training , creativety ,drawing skills, color , & craftsmanship are MOST EXCELLENT in his WORK !all i can say is WOW !! & PRAISE THE LORD for GENNADY SPIRIN

  11. I’m always mesmerized by his work. Brilliant technique and design that renders so much mystery and atmosphere! So many great books. ‘Once There Was a Tree’ is an old one but still on of my favorites. The cover to ‘The Frog Princess’ was the first piece I saw by him ( Society of Illustrators Annual in the mid-late 90’s): Only wish I could have seen the original. His all-around masterpiece maybe ‘The Nutcracker’, but it’s a tough call.

    Thanks for the post!