Boris Nikolai Mandrovsky was born in Moscow in 1916 on the eve of the Revolution. After making a last minute escape on a tramp steamer with his mother, he “squandered his early childhood amid the bazaars and minarets of Constantinople and the vineyard-covered hills of Yugoslavia.” His photographic memory and ability to absorb totally all languages he heard during this period were to place him in good stead.
He came to the United States at seven, and grew up in Connecticut and later attended Trinity School in New York. After receiving a B.S. degree in Biology, he spent five adventure-packed years in the Army, winding up in 1945 as an interpreter at the Quadripartite Conference in war-torn Berlin.
While on his honeymoon in Mexico in 1946, Mandrovsky was so struck by the look of Mexican landscapes at dawn that he bought a small box of watercolors and to paint. In Taxco he encountered Carl Papper, a Hungarian painter, who persuaded him to study painting seriously. Accordingly, he spent a year studying at the Corcoran School of Art* under Eugen Weiss and Sid Swartaman.
In 1947 the Mandrovskys sailed for France where he enrolled at the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere* to study under Othon Priesz, but after a few weeks a group of American painters who were studying under the G.I. Bill banded together to form an experimental atelier* at the school. Here, working closely with John Anderson (of Minnesota) and Reginald Pollock (of New York), he began to paint in an abstract manner. Mondrovsky regarded these two years (when, except for a series of bicycle camping trips with his wife to study Romanesque* churches in France, England, and Italy, he did nothing but paint), as the critical period of his painting career. Many of the persistent images and composition concepts in his art stem from his Paris atelier days.
Mandrovsky returned home from Europe in September, 1949, to enroll for two additional years at George Washington University where he received an M.A. in Art Education and spent another year at the Corcoran Gallery School under Eugen Weiss. After completing his studies he obtained a position at the Library of Congress. He made his home in Fairfax County, Virginia.
In 1954 and 1956, he visited Mexico and toured Europe, studying respectively Indian arts and Catalonian Romanesque* frescoes in Barcelona.
He died in Oakland, Maryland in 1976.
Mandrovsky was truly a Renaissance* man, and the internet has quite a few references to his accomplishments in writing and collecting. As a biologist he not only published reports on the biological implications of the Soyuz space project, but also served as the Chief English-Russian Translator for NASA on the Soyuz project.
Of Mandrovsky's paintings, only about 200 survived, most of which have remained in family collections until recently.
His sister; his grand-nephew; Stephen Poole, and a single undated exhibition catalogue from the mid-to-late 1950s.
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx