Chopin, Vienne, 1938
signed and inscribed 'Chopin, Vienna '38'
Oil on paper
9 1/2 x 7 1/2 ins
24 x 19 cm
Michel Georges-Michel was a prominent figure in the cafes of Montparnasse and Montmartre in the early twentieth century. His reputation was primarily founded on his zealous art criticism, which often...
Michel Georges-Michel was a prominent figure in the cafes of Montparnasse and Montmartre in the early twentieth century. His reputation was primarily founded on his zealous art criticism, which often challenged the accepted opinions of the day. In 1910 he was one of the few critics to champion the Futurists.
In his book Peintres et Sculpteurs que j’ai connus Michel Georges-Michel describes how, aged sixteen, he met Degas, Rodin and Renoir and how Degas encouraged him to paint. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Dufy and Othon-Friesz and afterwards at the Ecole du Louvre. As a Jewish artist living in Montparnasse in the ‘Années Folles’ he came to share the intellectual and artistic life of the Jewish émigré artists and writers including Soutine, Modigliani, Chagall, and Max Jacob. Michel Georges-Michel also enjoyed friendships with many of the seminal figures of the day. He was invited by Monet to his home in Giverny and Picasso demonstrated his respect for him when, whilst in Rome, he sent him the key to his studio, entrusting him to select works for exhibition in Italy.
These strong relationships continued by letter after Michel Georges-Michel was forced to flee from Paris to New York in 1940 to avoid Nazi persecution: his art collection was one of those listed for confiscation by the Nazis. After his departure, Fernand Leger wrote “His reputation travelled across oceans. He knows many things.”
Michel Georges-Michel thrived upon the life taking place around him, absorbing every detail and idiosyncrasy - contemporaries admired his ability to capture so brilliantly the essence of his characters. This engagement with life is evident in his witty and whimsical paintings of Parisian scenes - his favourite subject. He also enjoyed recording his experiences of living in New York and travelling through Europe, referring to his works as chronicles, believing his paintings were worth more than a written social history.
The artist's estate