The father of Boris Grigoriev was a bank director in Rybinsk (Upper Volga region), and his mother, with maiden name Linberg, originated from Riga, from the family of a merchant and ship owner. Having finished training in Moscow, the artist and his wife Ella moved to St. Petersburg where he worked in the Academy of Arts for 3 or 4 years. Later he became a freelance artist.
In 1910-1911, he focused on graphic technique, following the World of Art traditions. But as early as in 1912 he developed his own style. He was professor in the Academy in Moscow. Grigoriev participated in many exhibitions in Paris and New York. In 1919, he was forced to expatriate. He built a small house with a studio in Cannes, south France, and called it Villa Borisella. It became the main residential and creative site for Grigoriev in the last 12 years of his life. Grigoriev did not almost have pupils and followers. Dyagilev did not engage him in Russian Ballet (despite commonalities with Stravinsky’s work), and this fact is still enigmatic for researchers.
In the 1920’s, Grigoriev attained noisy and external fame of the “historian of Russian soul” in the West, especially in the U.S.A., who managed to express in his works the very spirit, the very essence of the national character – impetuous, spontaneous, frightening. He did not almost have any connection with Russia, except that the then well-known painter Roerich corresponded with Grigoriev.
Since 1921, Grigoriev lived in Paris where his personal exhibitions were held annually. Each summer he went to work to quiet provincial villages of Normandy and Brittany. In the 1920’s, Grigoriev also frequently visited the United States but did not settle down there for permanent residence, despite his friends’ (in particular, D. Burliuk’s) support.
Boris Grigoriev’s talent was lost for Russia for many generations, until 1989, when the artist’s First Personal Exhibition was held with support by Dmitry Likhachov in Russia, in his small motherland (in the Pskov museum).
Boris Grigoriev had not only artistic but literary gift. His legacy includes letters, the Line and Teacher essays in the Raseya collection, poetic works, as well as the Young Rays, an early novel published in St. Petersburg in 1912 under the nickname of Boris Gri.