Costume Designs in Oils – Sandy Wagner

This fall as we were sailing one of ourtable mate was bidding at the art auction and brought a print of the oil painting they had purchased to the table. To my surprise it was of a costume used in a movie and painted by a Russian painter, graphics designer, costume designer and set designer Yuri Annenkov – I had never heard of him but they have been purchasing his painting that he did of the sketches that he did as a costume designer for years. With the help of one of Ragged Cloths members – Natalya from New York (she looked up Yuri and translated the Russian for me) I was able to find some of his other work and be certain this was the same artist.

Yuri worked in the theater early on and movies later designing sets and costumes. He lived in Russia, Germany and finally settled in Paris until his death in 1974 – he was born in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to a family in exile for collaborating in the assassination of Alexander II. In 1892 the family returned to St. Petersburg. Yuri did not receive a formal art education but studied in the studio of S.M.Zeidenberg and at the Technical Drawing School of Baron Stieglitz.


The top picture is of Helena Annenkov 1917 – Yuri’s wife. Text is in Russian (thank you to Natalya)

What caught my attention was the oil paintings of the elegant women’s costume drawings -the prints that I saw were of period costumes – then in researching him I found the ballerina’s tutu’s, each painting included swatches of the fabrics used to make the costume. The lines are fine and the garments flowed with ease. His more recent work has a light background so you could see the element of the designs.


The ballerina is a sketch with the cloth that was used for the tutu. The painting is not as clear as the one I saw but you get an idea. I found a lot of history of Yuri but not much in the line of paintings. Take a look at and for some of his other work and if you happen to find a site with the costume designs let us know. He was nominated for an Oscar for “The Earning of Madame de” but did not get it. He designed for over 50 films mainly in the style of classic modeme (could not find the meaning for modeme in the dictionary).

In 1966 his memoirs were published “Journal of my Meetings, Cycle of Tragedies” in which he talks about Russian and Soviet culture with sharp irony.

8 Responses to “Costume Designs in Oils – Sandy Wagner”

  1. 1 Firuz August 22, 2008 at 6:14 am

    Thank you Natalya for this site.
    It’s very nice.

  2. 2 sandyw November 15, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Hi Natalya, I was checking out the links you gave and found the one with the movies that he was involved with – but can not find them at the present time. Figured that the one Black Magic with Orson Wells would be on Netflix but no.


  3. 3 Natalya November 14, 2007 at 4:03 am

    hi Sandy,
    I believe his style was classic moderne (modern). I just went back to the chapter to see if I have really screwed up the translation.
    I found a few more links that maybe interesting: – movie website

    and this site had lots of good size illustrations

  4. 4 Olga November 13, 2007 at 1:39 am

    I love it when artists have such an excitement about their own vision that they want to be so omnivorous and try their hand in diverse outlets. It must have been such a buzz in the breaking waves of modernism, constructivism, cubism, … all those heady -isms that it would feel natural to want to turn everything one saw into the same glow. I particularly love the oil portrait of his wife, and the theatre design backdrop of hell which seems such a fun place!

  5. 5 sandyw November 12, 2007 at 5:40 pm

    Gabrielle, I thought all his work was interesting plus the family history during his early lifetime. The picture of his wife was abstract and yet I felt somewhat erotic. I hope to find his book and read more of his life and feelings.

    I wondered if he was driven to work in different media because of the times or his inner drive. It would have been interesting to have known him.


  6. 6 gabrielleswain November 12, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Thanks Sandy for the new links….very interesting work. I love that he worked in so many media and such a variety of projects. Iknow you were drawn to his costumes and garments but what do you think about his graphic design and set design work? They seem to be an important part of his career.

    On another point, do you think that working in a variety of media adds to the growth of an artist or does it imply he/she isn’t focused enough to maintain the concentration of working in one medium? I already know my answer but am interested in you thoughts.

    Thanks for stopping by in Houston….always good to see cyber friends….especially ones who are on the same wave length.

  7. 7 sandyw November 12, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Hi Gabrielle, Good to see you in Houston. I checked the sites – I had Googled them in the beginning. Try: – these are paintings for sale but it is the only on I could find with the costume drawings. Scroll down it is #4. click on The Union of Youth or google and go to the site and his info comes right up.


  8. 8 gabrielleswain November 11, 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Hi Sandy, I went to both of the links you provided and couldn’t find any of the works you mentioned. Can you give me some guidance. As a former theatre rat, I am always fascinated with anyone who worked in more than one media.
    Thanks for any help.

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