Jules Pascin (Vidin, 1885 – Paris, 1930)
United States, 1916
Oil on canvas, 60.2 x 73 cm
Paris, mahJ, gift of Claire Maratier
Jules Pascin (Vidin, 1885 – Paris, 1930), American Girls, United States, 1916
Oil on canvas, 60.2 x 73 cm. Paris, mahJ, gift of Claire Maratier
Julius Mordechai Pincas was born in Bulgaria, into a family of rich merchants of Italian and Sephardic origin that settled in Bucharest in 1892. After stays in Budapest and Vienna where, against his father’s will, he began studying art in 1902, he attended the Moritz Heymann art school in Munich in 1903-1904. For the next five years, he worked as an illustrator for the German satirical magazines Simplicissimus, Lustige Blätter and Jugend, and much of his work is characterised by his powerful sense of satire and caricature.
In 1905 he moved to Paris, called himself Jules Pascin and joined the circle of German-speaking artists who congregated at the Café du Dôme. In 1907 Galerie Cassirer in Berlin organised his first exhibition. He showed at the Salon d’Automne from 1908 to 1912, at the Secession exhibition in Berlin (1911), at the Sonderbund in Cologne (1912) and at the Armory Show in New York (1913).
When the First World War broke out he left for the United States and spent the war years travelling in the southern states and Cuba.
He obtained American citizenship in 1920 and returned to Paris, living in Rue Joseph-Bara in Montparnasse, where his neighbours were Moïse Kisling and Léopold Zborowski. He organised numerous soirées and played his full part in Paris night life in the company of Pierre Mac Orlan, André Salmon and Léonard Foujita. His work was now critically acclaimed and he showed in the United States and Europe. In 1922 he sold several works to the American art collector Albert C. Barnes and in 1929 signed a contract with Galerie Bernheim-Jeune. The following year he committed suicide in his Paris studio.
He painted American Girls during his stay in the United States. It shows his fondness for female subjects, the nude and portraying women with ample forms in languorous poses like a caricaturist.
He painted freely and rapidly, paying little attention to anatomical accuracy. Intent on achieving the same lightness of touch on canvas with which he excelled on paper, he diluted his paint with petrol, using oils almost like watercolour.
This is one of the eighteen works by the School of Paris donated to the mahJ by Claire Maratier (1915-2013), Michel Kikoine’s daughter, including works by her father, Henri Hayden, Chaim Soutine, Pinchus Krémègne, Louis Marcoussis and Jules Pascin.
American Girls was shown in 2004 in an exhibition combining works by Pascin in the mahJ and in the Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris.