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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Jules Pascin - man of the world from the Danube


Last year, while I was compiling my list of almost 150 20th century Bulgarian painters whose work appealed to me, I would occasionally come across the name Jules Pascin – associated with (for me) unimpressive sketches being auctioned locally.

Slowly I learned there was more to the man – and that he had in fact spent little time in Bulgaria (even schooled for 6 years in Vienna) and was more famous in France and America for his paintings of women. Barbara’s It’s About Time blog gives a great series of these -which have, for me, more than a touch of Egon Schiele to them.
I have unashamedly stolen most of the text which follows from her blogpost about him - for which many thanks!

There’s a great catalogue of his works on paper here which gives a detailed chronology. And also here.

He was born in Vidin in 1885 on the Danube as Julius Mordecai Pincas of well-off Italian-Serbian & Spanish-Jewish parents who moved first to Russe (my Bulgarian sources tell me) and then Bucharest, Romania. He was educated in Vienna from age 10-15, returning in 1901 to Bucharest, where his family had settled, working briefly in the office of his father's grain-merchandizing business.
He was, however, becoming passionately interested in drawing, for which he showed precocious talent. His early talent drew the attention of the famous Bulgarian caricaturist Alexander Bozhinov.
At the age of 16, he became the lover of a woman who ran a brothel in Bucharest; and was allowed to draw the residents.In 1902 he went back to Vienna to study painting and, in 1903, he moved to Munich, where he attended the art school run by Moritz Heymann. Some of his drawings appeared in the renowned German satirical journal Simplicissimus when he was only 19 when he got a contract with them and met Georg Grosz.
After Pascin moved to Paris in 1905, he changed his name to spare his family who were apparently ashamed of his dissolute life-style and became a central figure in the social & cultural life of the cafes & studios of Montparnasse – meeting in 1906 his future wife Hermine David (also a painter). He lived in the United States from 1914 to 1920 where he taught at the Telfair Academy in Savannah, Georgia, associated with the Telfair Art Museum. Pascin married Hermine David at City Hall in New York City and become a citizen of the United States.
He & Hermine painted in New York City as well as in Miami, New Orleans, & Cuba.
Returning to Paris in 1920, he continued to compose paintings of delicately toned, thinly painted, but poetically bitter & ironic studies of women - including his wife, his mistress, & some prostitute acquaintances. 
Although Pascin's watercolours, oils, and drawings were generally well received, a series of unfavourable reviews in 1930 left him severely depressed. Suffering from depression & alcoholism, he committed suicide on the eve of a prestigious solo show by slitting his wrists & hanging himself in his studio in Montmartre. On the wall of that studio, he left a message written in his blood saying good-bye to his love, Cecile "Lucy" Vidil Krohg. In his will, Pascin left his estate equally to his mistress, Lucy Krohg, & to his wife, Hermine David.

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