Born Kagalnitskaya, Russia 1897, arrived Australia 1923, died Melbourne 1958
Danila Vassilieff had no formal training as an artist, but the broadly-brushed forms and fresh expressionist quality of his paintings generated strong interest amongst the growing modern painters in Melbourne. Vassilieff formed a close association with the Heide patrons John and Sunday Reed, and artists Albert Tucker, Charles Blackman and John Perceval.
In the late 1930s Vassilieff was painting full time, and had six of his paintings published in the colour-illustrated Art in Australia magazine. During this period he painted many street scenes of the Sydney suburbs of Woolloomooloo and Surry Hills where he lived in 1936, and the working class Melbourne areas of Fitzroy and Carlton after moving there.
He was increasingly frustrated by his lack of commercial success and subsequently moved to Warrandyte, Victoria. Introspection and solitude led to an intensified folk, naïve style in his painting of the 1950s.
Vassilieff’s work was included in Rebels and Precursors, 1937–1947, National Gallery of Victoria (1962), in a commemorative exhibition at the Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne (1973), and in the 1989 exhibition Angry Penguins at the Hayward Gallery in London which later toured Australia.
His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, most state galleries, and the Mornington Peninsula and Ballarat regional galleries.