Alexander Gustav von SALZMANN 1874 -1934

Alexander Gustav von Salzmann came from a respected family of Russian-German architects of Odessa. He studied in Moscow for then moving to Munich in 1898 to attend the courses held by the symbolist painter Franz von Stuck at the Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1896 he joined the Munich group of painters who followed Wassily Kandinsky, who had founded the Phalanx Art School, and of which he became professor, in 1901.
He helped to execute the mural paintings of Willy von Beckerath for the Bremen Kunsthalle (1906), and he joined the “Blaue Reiter” (Blue Knight) cultural movement led by Kandinsky. He also frequented the cultural salon of the Baroness Marianne Werefkin – artist of Russian origins who hosted in her residence all of the most prominent artists, ballet dancers, actors and gallerists of early 20th century Munich.
Furthermore, from 1903 to 1923, von Salzmann collaborated as an illustrator for many editions of the famous weekly magazine of Munich: “Jugend” (Youth) – a name which was picked up by the Jugendstil German Liberty movement.
Around 1910-1911, he moved to Hellerau, adhering to the Hellerau Theatrical Association and actively collaborating with the innovators of music, Emile Jacques-Dalcroze, and of stagecraft, Adolphe Appia. Von Salzmann was considered by a famous Parisian theatre critic as “one of the most important scenic innovators” given that he invented an avant-garde scenic illumination system named the “luminous pentagram”, which was successively adopted by all Russian and European theatres of the 20th century.
Another important encounter with the artist’s art and spirituality was the one with Geogres Ivanovitch Gurdjieff in 1917, who prompted him to found a religious exoteric cult.
From 1921, once in Paris, he became member of the lyrical theather of the Champs-Élysées, where he worked on important operas by Claudel and Gluck. During his Parisian years he also worked as an antique retailer and fresco decorator for many city buildings.
He died of tubercolosis in Leysin, Switerzland. His friend René Daumal dedicated him the book: Le Mont Analogue.


[1] H. R. Lenormand, "Choses de théâtre", 1922, see C. Di Donato, L'invisibile reso visibile, Aracne Editrice, Rome, December 2013 and Id., Alexandre Salzmann e la scena del XX secolo, Carocci, 2015.