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Alexander A. Yaron

  • An autodidact and a versatile commercial artist, Alexander Yaron applied his talent in portraiture, photography, interior design, advertising, layout and illustration. His best known projects were illustrated art magazines and books produced as part of Adcraft Studios, in tandem with Ivan Kounin.
  • Alexander
  • A.
  • Yaron
  • Александр Александрович Ярон

  • 01-08-1910
  • 29-07-1991
  • Washington (US)
  • DesignerJournalistArtistPhotographer
  • An autodidact and a versatile commercial artist, Alexander Yaron applied his talent in portraiture, photography, interior design, advertising, layout and illustration. His best known projects were illustrated art magazines and books produced as part of Adcraft Studios, in tandem with Ivan Kounin.

    Word Count: 42

  • Kounin, Ivan, and Alexander Yaron, editors. The Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Shanghai, 1940. Portrait of Alexander A. Yaron, photography.
  • Alexander A. Yaron was the younger son of the renowned Russian architect, Alexander J. Yaron, who arrived in Shanghai in 1922 and enjoyed a successful career, employing his older son, John, in his architecture firm. Although Alexander, Jr., lacked a formal arts education, he made up for it by self-study and an apprenticeship with the leading artists from Shanghai’s Russian diaspora, such as Victor Podgoursky and Vasily Zasipkin. After graduating from the German School, Yaron started to work as an artist and designer in foreign-owned advertising firms and news agencies, such as Carl Crow Inc. and Millington Ltd. In September 1930, he joined the Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury as an artistic director, and after two years formed his own advertising studio Movieart, which later merged with the Cinema Arts Co. That partnership, however, was doomed, because the owner of the company, Alexander Segel, was continuously embroiled in court battles.

    Yaron was equally competent in all visual arts, and his realistic portraiture was in constant demand by high-end clients. In 1936, three large portraits of Chinese political leaders – Sun Yatsen, Lin Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek – decorated a large Shanghai stadium during a mass sports event. Yaron took prize-winning landscape photographs and painted some icons at St. Nicholas Church on Route Vallon, built by his father. He regularly created scenery for the productions of the Russian opera and ballet at the Lyceum Theatre. He also did interior design, such as the new décor for the nightclub DD’s, on Avenue Joffre, in 1940. Yaron was an active participant of various art societies, including Ponedelnik (“Monday”) and HLAM.

    In 1936, Yaron began his collaboration with the publisher Ivan Kounin and designed an illustrated volume devoted to the visit of the renowned opera singer Fedor Chaliapine to Shanghai. They spent the next year working on a book dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Republic of China. In October 1938, another collaborative volume came out – a 282-page illustrated album entitled Eighty-Five Years of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps, which was praised as “a credit to its editor, artist and publishing house” by the China Weekly Review.

    In 1938, Yaron and Kounin formed Adcraft Studios, which produced photographic reports of public and private events, graphic advertising, book illustration and design, and various promotional material. Among their products were the programmes, booklets and posters for the Russian Light Opera shows. Their publications were renowned for their creative design, high-quality binding and tasteful presentation. Adcraft Studios also published art-focused magazines, such as Highlights of Art and others.

    The crowing achievement of Adcraft Studios was the publication of the Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai (1940), which took two years to produce. The 342-page volume with 549 illustrations contained 138 artworks, mostly by Russian artists such as Mikhail Kichigin, Vera Kuznetzova and Victor Podgoursky. Alexander Yaron contributed the layout design, twelve artworks and several advertisement designs.

    In June 1941, Yaron severed his relationship with Kounin and founded Yaron Studios. He worked as a producer of commercial art and advertising until his departure from China in 1949. Among his corporate clients there were the China National Aviation Company (CNAC), Pan-American Airways, Henningsen Produce Co. and Shanghai’s major newspapers. With the establishment of communist rule, Alexander Yaron, his wife Helena and their young children Camilla and Alexander escaped to the Philippines, where many stateless refugees went. The family settled in the USA, where Yaron continued a career as a commercial artist at the Yaron Atelier, passing it on to his wife and son.

    Word Count: 576

  • Alexander Yaron, Along the ancient channel, print, Ponedelnik (Monday),1933 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).
    Alexander Yaron, portraits, drawings, Highlights of Art, 1938 (© Natalia Kounin).
    Alexander Yaron, poster for the Russian Ballet, 1936 (© Amir Khisamutdinov).
    Kounin, Ivan and Alexander Yaron, editors. Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Post mercury Co. fed. Inc. U.S.A.,1940. The double page shows the covers of Adcraft Studios’ magazines, including Highlights of Art, and others.
    Yaron Studios, advertisement for Central Air Transport Corporation, China Weekly Review, 20 September 1947.
  • Khisamutdinov, Amir. Russkie hudozhniki v Kitae (Russian artists in China). Vladivostok, 2015.
    Kounin, Ivan, and Yaron, Alexander, editors. The Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai. Shanghai, 1940.
    Lebedeva, Tatiana. “Книга "Бриллиантовый юбилей международного сеттельмента Шанхая" как памятник культуры и источник изучения художественной жизни Шанхая 1930-х годов (The book Diamond Jubilee of the International Settlement of Shanghai as a window on the artistic scene in 1930s Shanghai),” Literary Culture of Yaroslavl Region, conference papers, 2009.
    Zhiganov, Vladimir, Russkie v Shanghae. Russians in Shanghai. Shanghai, 1936.

    Word Count: 66

  • Katya Knyazeva
  • Shanghai, China (1922–1949); Philippines (1949); USA

  • Cinema Art Co., 72 Hongkong Road, International Settlement (now Xianggang Lu, Huangpu Qu); 317 Rue Cardinal Mercier, French Concession (now Maoming Nan Lu, Huangpu Qu); Adcraft Studio, 7 Avenue Edward VII, French Concession ( now Yan ’an Dong Lu, Huangpu Qu), Yaron Studios, 153 Nanking Road, International Settlement (now Nanjing Lu, Huangpu Qu), Shanghai

  • Shanghai
  • Katya Knyazeva. "Alexander A. Yaron." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 08-05-2021.
  • Ivan Kounin

    A self-driven journalist and a self-funded publisher, Ivan Kounin created several illustrated albums focused on the life of Shanghai’s international community, which highlighted the work of Russian artists.

    Word Count: 29

    Mikhail Kichigin

    Mikhail Kichigin was Shanghai’s preeminent émigré artist in the 1930s and 1940s. He travelled extensively around China and Eastern Asia, exhibiting his work and conducting visual studies. A versatile professional and a respected art instructor, he influenced a number of young artists from the Russian diaspora.

    Word Count: 47

    Vera Kuznetzova

    A native of Harbin and a resident of Shanghai in the 1930s and 1940s, Vera Kuznetzova was among the most accomplished female artists of the Russian diaspora. Together with Mikhail Kichigin, she travelled extensively around China and Eastern Asia, exhibiting her work and conducting visual studies.

    Word Count: 46

    Vasily Zasipkin

    Vasily Zasipkin was a prolific artist and and influential teacher, much loved in the diaspora. Having lost his studio and all his work in wartime Shanghai, he started over in Singapore.

    Word Count: 31

    John L. Isaack

    John Isaack studied for a year and a half at the Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin before joining an advertising, stage and fair design company. He arrived in Shanghai in 1939 and found work as a graphic artist at Adcraft an advertising agency before being forced to move into the designated refugee area in Hongkou.

    Word Count: 55

    Highlights of Art

    Highlights of Art was an illustrated magazine published by the creative duo Ivan Kounin and Alexander Yaron, working under the name Adcraft Studios. Although the magazine stopped publication after one issue, it launched a series of art-focused periodicals, praised for their high quality of design and their thematic coverage.

    Word Count: 49

    HLAM – Society for Artists, Writers, Entertainers and Musicians

    As Shanghai’s largest and most popular Russian émigré association focused loosely on art, HLAM provided a platform for weekly encounters between the self-professed bohemians and a general audience. The HLAM evenings included theatre scenes, comic routines, dance numbers and poetry readings.

    Word Count: 42


    Ponedelink was the most influential and the longest-running art society in Shanghai. Committed to promoting awareness of Russian culture and to developing its members' taste and erudition, it published the finest art magazine of the diaspora.

    Word Count: 36

    Lyceum Theatre

    The new Lyceum Theatre was designed in an eclectic style by British architects Davies & Brooke and opened on 5 February 1931.

    Word Count: 20

    Victor Podgoursky

    Victor Podgoursky spent more than twenty-five years in Shanghai, working as an artist, teacher and designer. As a long-standing member of the Shanghai Art Club, he acted as the resident art critic and an instructor in life drawing and painting for the members.

    Word Count: 43