School of Paris
André Warnod, Les Berceaux de la jeune peinture (1925). Cover illustration by Amedeo Modigliani
LocationFrance, Israel, US
Major figuresMarc Chagall, Chaïm Soutine, Yitzhak Frenkel, Jules Pascin, Amedeo Modigliani

The School of Paris (French: École de Paris) refers to the French and émigré artists who worked in Paris in the first half of the 20th century.

The School of Paris was not a single art movement or institution, but refers to the importance of Paris as a center of Western art in the early decades of the 20th century. Between 1900 and 1940 the city drew artists from all over the world and became a centre for artistic activity. School of Paris coined by André Warnod, was used to describe this loose community, particularly of non-French artists, centered in the cafes, salons and shared workspaces and galleries of Montparnasse.[1] Many artists of Jewish origin formed a prominent part of the School of Paris and later heavily influenced art in Israel.

Raoul Dufy, Regatta at Cowes, 1934, Washington D.C. National Gallery of Art

Before World War I the name was also applied to artists involved in the many collaborations and overlapping new art movements, between post-Impressionists and pointillism and Orphism, Fauvism and Cubism. In that period the artistic ferment took place in Montmartre and the well-established art scene there. But Picasso moved away, the war scattered almost everyone, by the 1920s Montparnasse had become a center of the avant-garde. After World War II the name was applied to another different group of abstract artists.

Early artists

Marc Chagall, The Fiddler, 1912–13

Before World War I, a group of expatriates in Paris created art in the styles of Post-Impressionism, Cubism and Fauvism. The group in its broader sense included artists like Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Amedeo Modigliani and Piet Mondrian. Associated French artists included Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Jean Metzinger and Albert Gleizes. Whilst in its more narrow description described Chagall and Modigliani.[2] Picasso and Matisse have been described as twin leaders (chefs d'école) of the school before the war.[3]

La Ruche

See also: La Ruche (residence)

Many École de Paris artists lived in the iconic La Ruche, a complex of studio apartments and other facilities in Montparnasse on the Left Bank, at 2 Passage Dantzig, built by a successful sculptor, Alfred Boucher, who wanted to develop a creative hub where struggling artists could live, work and interact.[4] Built from materials dismantled from the Medoc Wine Pavilion from the 1900 Paris World's Fair, it comprised 50 modest studios with large windows that let in a lot of light, with nearby buildings providing 50 more studios for the overflow of artists.[4] Boucher called the complex La Ruche – French for "beehive" – because he wanted the artists to work like bees in a beehive; he dedicated a large room in the complex where the poorer artists could draw a model that he paid for, and included a small theater space for plays and concerts.[4][5] La Ruche opened in 1902, with the blessing of the French government. It was often the first destination of émigré artists who arrived in Paris eager to join the art scene and find affordable housing.[4] Living and working in close quarters, many artists forged lasting friendships, e.g., Chaïm Soutine with Modigliani, Chagall and poet Blais Cendrars, and influenced each other's works.[4][6] Artists who lived and worked in La Ruche include Amedeo Modigliani, Yitzhak Frenkel, Diego Rivera, Tsuguharu Foujita, Jacob, Soutine, Michel Kikoine, Moïse Kisling, Pinchus Krémègne, Ossip Zadkine, Jules Pascin, Marc Chagall, Amshey Nurenberg, Jacques Lipchitz, and more.[5][4]

After World War I

Sonia Delaunay, Rythme, 1938

The term "School of Paris" was used in 1925 by André Warnod to refer to the many foreign-born artists who had migrated to Paris.[7] The term soon gained currency, often as a derogatory label by critics who saw the foreign artists—many of whom were Jewish—as a threat to the purity of French art.[8] Art critic Louis Vauxcelles, noted for coining the terms "Fauvism" and "Cubism" (also meant disparagingly), called immigrant artists unwashed "Slavs disguised as representatives of French art".[9] Waldemar George, himself a French Jew, in 1931 lamented that the School of Paris name "allows any artist to pretend he is French...it refers to French tradition but instead annihilates it."[10]

School of Paris artists were progressively marginalized. Beginning in 1935, articles about Chagall no longer appeared in art publications (other than those published for Jewish audiences), and by June 1940 when the Vichy government took power, School of Paris artists could no longer exhibit in Paris at all.[10]

The artists working in Paris between World War I and World War II experimented with various styles including Cubism, Orphism, Surrealism and Dada. Foreign and French artists working in Paris included Jean Arp, Joan Miró, Constantin Brâncuși, Raoul Dufy, Tsuguharu Foujita, artists from Belarus like Michel Kikoine, Pinchus Kremegne, the Lithuanian Jacques Lipchitz and Arbit Blatas, who documented some of the greatest representatives of the School of Paris in his oeuvre, the Polish artists Marek Szwarc and Morice Lipsi and others such as Russian-born prince Alexis Arapoff.[11]

A significant subset, the Jewish artists, came to be known as the Jewish School of Paris or the School of Montparnasse.[12] The "core members were almost all Jews, and the resentment expressed toward them by French critics in the 1930s was unquestionably fueled by anti-Semitism."[13] One account points to the 1924 Salon des Indépendants, which decided to separate the works of French-born artists from those by immigrants; in response critic Roger Allard [fr] referred to them as the School of Paris.[13][14] Jewish members of the group included Emmanuel Mané-Katz, Abraham Mintchine, Chaïm Soutine, Adolphe Féder, Marc Chagall, Yitzhak Frenkel Frenel, Moïse Kisling, Maxa Nordau and Shimshon Holzman.[15]

The artists of the Jewish School of Paris were stylistically diverse. Some, like Louis Marcoussis, worked in a cubist style, but most tended toward expression of mood rather than an emphasis on formal structure.[12] Their paintings often feature thickly brushed or troweled impasto. The Musée d'Art et d'Histoire du Judaïsme has works from School of Paris artists including Pascin, Kikoine, Soutine, Mintchine, Orloff and Lipschitz.[16]

Jewish School of Paris

France

Artists of Jewish origin had a marked influence in the École de Paris. Paris the capital of the art world attracted Jewish artists from Eastern Europe, several of them fleeing persecution, discrimination and pogroms. Many of these artists settled in Montparnasse.[17] Several Jewish painters were notable in the movement; these include Marc Chagall and Jules Pascin, the expressionists Chaïm Soutine and Isaac Frenkel Frenel as well as Amedeo Modigliani and Abraham Mintchine.[18][19][20] Many Jewish artists were known for depicting Jewish themes in their work, and some artists' paintings were imbued with heavy emotional tones. Frenkel described the artists as "members of the minority characterized by restlessness whose expressionism is therefore extreme in its emotionalism".[21]

The term l'École de Paris coined by the art critic André Warnod in 1925 in the magazine Comœdia, was intended by Warnod to negate xenophobic attitudes towards the foreign artists, many of whom were Jewish Eastern European.[22] Louis Vauxcelles wrote several monographs for the publisher Le Triangle, a prolific critic of Jewish painters. In a 1931 monograph, he wrote: "like a swarm of locusts, an invasion of Jewish colorists fell on Paris – on the Paris of Montparnasse. The causes of this exodus: the Russian revolution, and all that it brought with it of misery, pogroms, exactions, persecutions; the unfortunate young artists take refuge here, attracted by the influence of contemporary French art .... They will constitute [an element of] what the young critic will call the School of Paris. Many talents are to be considered in this crowd of metèques."[22]

Following the Nazi occupation of France; several prominent Jewish artists died during the holocaust,[23] leading to the dwindling of the Jewish School Of Paris. Others managed to left or fled Europe, mostly to Israel or the US.[18][17]

Israel

Main article: Visual arts in Israel

Israeli art was dominated by the École de Paris inspired art between the 1920s and 1940s, with French art continuing to strongly influence Israeli art for the following decades.[24] This phenomenon began with the return of École de Paris Isaac Frenkel Frenel to Mandatory Palestine in 1925 and his opening of the Histadrut Art Studio.[25][26] His students were encouraged to continue their studies in Paris, and upon their return to Pre-Independence Israel amplified the influence of the Jewish artists of the School of Paris they encountered.[25][26][24]

These artists, centered in Montparnasse in Paris and in Tel Aviv and Safed in Israel, tended to portray humanity and the emotion evoked through human facial expression.[27] Furthermore, characteristically of Jewish Parisian Expressionism, the art was dramatic and even tragic, perhaps in connection to the suffering of the Jewish soul.[28] During the 1930s several such painters would paint scenes in Israel in an Impressionist style and a Parisian light, greyer dimmer compared to the powerful Mediterranean sun.[29][30]

Artists Quarter of Safed

Main article: Artists Quarter of Safed

Safed, a city in the mountains of the Galilee and one of the four holy cities of Judaism, was a Centre of École de Paris artists during the mid and late 20th century. Artists were attracted there by the romantic and mystical qualities of the Kabbalistic mountain city. The artists' quarter founded in 1949 was formed at first by Moshe Castel, Shimshon Holzman, Yitzhak Frenkel and other artists, many of them influenced by or part of the School of Paris.[25][31][32] Though not united by a common artistic trope, it was a clear bastion of École de Paris in the country.[33][32]

The painters of the community who were influenced by the Ecole de Paris attempted to express or reflect the mystics of Tzfat. Painting with colors that reflect the dynamism and spirituality of the ancient city, painting the fiery or serene sunsets over Mt Meron.[34] Marc Chagall would walk the streets and paint portraits of religious children.[35] Several of these artists would commute between Safed and Paris.[35][33][32]

Musicians

In the same period, the School of Paris name was also extended to an informal association of classical composers, émigrés from Central and Eastern Europe to who met at the Café Du Dôme in Montparnasse. They included Alexandre Tansman, Alexander Tcherepnin, Bohuslav Martinů and Tibor Harsányi. Unlike Les Six, another group of Montparnasse musicians at this time, the musical school of Paris was a loosely-knit group that did not adhere to any particular stylistic orientation.[36]

After World War II

In the aftermath of the war, "nationalistic and anti-Semitic attitudes were discredited, and the term took on a more general use denoting both foreign and French artists in Paris".[8] But although the "Jewish problem" trope continued to surface in public discourse, art critics ceased making ethnic distinctions in using the term. While in the early 20th century French art critics contrasted The School of Paris and the École de France, after World War II the question was School of Paris vs School of New York.[37]

New School of Paris

Post-World War II (Après-guerre), the term "New School of Paris" often referred to tachisme, and lyrical abstraction, a European parallel to American Abstract Expressionism. These artists include again foreign ones and are also related to CoBrA.[38] Important proponents were Jean Dubuffet, Jean Fautrier, Pierre Soulages, Nicolas de Staël, Hans Hartung, Wols, Serge Poliakoff, Bram van Velde, Simon Hantaï, Gérard Schneider, Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, Zao Wou-Ki, Chu Teh-Chun, Georges Mathieu, André Masson, Jean Degottex, Pierre Tal-Coat, Jean Messagier, Alfred Manessier, Jean Le Moal, Olivier Debré, Zoran Mušič, Jean-Michel Coulon and Fahrelnissa Zeid, among others. Many of their exhibitions took place at the Galerie de France in Paris, and then at the Salon de Mai where a group of them exhibited until the 1970s.

In 1996, UNESCO organized the 50th anniversary of the School of Paris (1954-1975), bringing together "100 painters of the New School of Paris." Notable artists included Arthur Aeschbacher, Jean Bazaine, Leonardo Cremonini, Olivier Debré, Chu Teh-Chun, Jean Piaubert, Jean Cortot, Zao Wou-ki, François Baron-Renouard, among others. This grand exhibition featured a hundred painters from 28 different countries at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. The exhibition's curators were the art critics Henry Galy-Carles and Lydia Harambourg.

Art Critics

Art critics and renowned writers have written prefaces, books, and articles regarding the painters of the School of Paris, notably in periodicals such as Libération, Le Figaro, Le Peintre, Combat, Les Lettres françaises, Les Nouvelles littéraires. Among these writers and critiques were Waldermar George, Georges-Emmanuel Clancier, Jean-Paul Crespelle, Arthur Conte, Robert Beauvais, Jean Lescure, Jean Cassou, Bernard Dorival, André Warnod, Jean-Pierre Pietri, George Besson, Georges Boudaille, Jean-Albert Cartier, Jean Chabanon, Raymond Cogniat, Guy Dornand, Jean Bouret, Raymond Charmet, Florent Fels, Georges Charensol, Frank Elgar, Roger Van Gindertael, Georges Limbour, Marcel Zahar.

Selected artists

Associated with artists

Gallery

See also

References

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  2. ^ "École de Paris". Oxford Reference. doi:10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095740991?d=/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803095740991&p=emailamjkojkmomhie (inactive 2024-02-28). Retrieved 2024-02-14.((cite web)): CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of February 2024 (link)
  3. ^ a b c d "Glossary of art terms: School of Paris". Tate Gallery. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
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  14. ^ Stanley Meisner, Albert Barnes and his pursuit of non-French art in Paris, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2015
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Further reading