Skip to Main Content

Course & Subject Guides

Archives & Special Collections Exhibits

Guide on Past and Current Archives & Special Collections Exhibits @ the University of Pittsburgh Library System - Oakland (2020-present)

Andre Avinoff: Fantastic Visions

Date of Exhibition: Fall 2022- Summer 2023

Curator: Undergraduate students of HAA1019 Curatorial Development (Spring 2022) and HAA2022 Exhibition Presentation (Fall 2022), taught by Dr. Alex Taylor

Location: Archives & Special Collections exhibit gallery, 3rd floor Hillman Library, University of Pittsburgh 3960 Forbes Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15260 and the University Art Gallery, Frick Fine Arts Building, 650 Schenley Drive Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Description: Step into the multifaceted worlds of Pittsburgh's most extraordinary polymath. 

Andrey Avinoff (1884-1949) was born to an aristocratic family in Tulchin, Ukraine. He fled Russia just weeks before the Bolshevik Revolution, working as a commercial artist in New York before accepting a role at the Carnegie Museum, where he served as Director until 1945. 

Avinoff became famous for collecting butterflies, but his wide-ranging interests spanned the arts and sciences. At the University of Pittsburgh, he taught in both the Biology and Fine Arts departments. His taste in art was as conservative as his politics. But alongside meticulous scientific images, his visionary artworks could resemble the modern styles he claimed to reject. 

Although he later destroyed much of his homoerotic art, Avinoff’s sexuality was something of an open secret among Pittsburgh’s cultural elite. He was Russian Orthodox, and claimed expertise in Christian icons and church architecture. But he was also fascinated by other belief systems, and his works sometimes imitate imagery from other cultures. 

This exhibition shines a light on Avinoff’s remarkable life and art, featuring rarely-seen items from the artist’s papers recently acquired by the University of Pittsburgh Library System. It continues in the University Art Gallery in the Frick Fine Arts Building until December 2022. 

All materials come from the Andrey Avinoff Archive, University of Pittsburgh Library System, unless otherwise noted. 

Exhibit Photographs