Victor Mikhail Arnautoff (1896-1979)
Born in the Ukraine of Russia, Victor Arnautoff became one of the most influential muralists in San Francisco in the 1930s and worked for the Federal Arts Project, WPA, in the expressive, social protest-style of Diego Rivera. He was also a painter, lithographer, sculptor, and respected teacher, and the subjects of his art work ranged from portraits, still lifes, and landscapes early in his career to more socially conscious themes later.
He arrived in San Francisco in 1925, having travelled through China and Mexico. He enrolled in the California School of Fine Arts where he studied sculpture with Ralph Stackpole and painting with Edgar Walters. He returned to China for his wife and children, and returned to California via Mexico City where he studied with Rivera from 1929 to 1931.
The family then settled in San Francisco, and he taught at the California School of Fine Arts and from 1939 to 1963, was professor of art at Stanford University. Following the death of his wife, he returned to Russia where he continued his career as a painter and also as a mosaic muralist.
His murals can be seen at Coit Tower, George Washington High School, and the Presidio in San Francisco and in post offices in Richmond, South San Francisco, and Pacific Grove.
Edan Hughes, Artists in California, 1786-1940