School of Paris

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.

Raoul Dufy, Regatta at Cowes, 1934, Washington D.C. National Gallery of Art
Sonia Delaunay, Rythme, 1938

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 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]

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 artistsEdit

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 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. Picasso and Matisse have been described as twin leaders (chefs d’école) of the school before the war.[2]

La RucheEdit

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.[3] 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.[3] 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.[3][4] 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.[3] 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.[3][5] Artists who lived and worked in La Ruche include Amedeo Modigliani, Rivera, Tsuguharu Foujita, Jacob, Soutine, Michel Kikoine, Moïse Kisling, Pinchus Krémègne, Ossip Zadkine, Pascin, Marc Chagall, Amshey Nurenberg, Lipchitz, and more.[4][3]

After World War IEdit

André Warnod, Les Berceaux de la jeune peinture (1925). Cover illustration by Amedeo Modigliani

The term "School of Paris" was used in 1925 by André Warnod [fr] to refer to the many foreign-born artists who had migrated to Paris.[6] 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.[7] 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".[8] Waldemar George, himself a French Jew, in 1931 lamented that the School of Paris name "allows any artist to pretend he is refers to French tradition but instead annihilates it."[9]

School of Paris artists were progressively marginalized. Beginning in 1935 art publications no longer wrote about Chagall, just magazines 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.[9]

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.[10]

A significant subset, the Jewish artists, came to be known as the Jewish School of Paris or the School of Montparnasse.[11] 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."[12] 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.[12][13] 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.[14]

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.[11] 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.[15]

After World War IIEdit

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".[7] 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.[16]

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.[17] 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.

Selected artistsEdit

Associated with artistsEdit


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.[31]


See alsoEdit

  • Cité Falguière
  • ReferencesEdit

    1. ^ "School of Paris". Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
    2. ^ a b c d "Glossary of art terms: School of Paris". Tate Gallery. Retrieved July 16, 2014.
    3. ^ a b c d e f Meisler, Stanley (2015). Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-27880-7.
    4. ^ a b Muratova, X. (1979). Paris. The Burlington Magazine, 121(912), 198-198. Retrieved May 4, 2021.
    5. ^ Blood, A. (2011). Chagall and his circle: Philadelphia. The Burlington Magazine, 153(1301), 558-559. Retrieved May 4, 2021
    6. ^ André Warnod, Les Berceaux de la jeune peinture : Montmartre, Montparnasse, l'École de Paris, Edition Albin Michel, 1925
    7. ^ a b Alley, Ronald. "Ecole de Paris." Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Web.
    8. ^ a b c d e Deborah Solomon (June 25, 2015). "Montmartre/Montparnasse". New York Times Review of Books. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
    9. ^ a b Romy Golan (2010). "The École Francaise vs the École de Paris: The Debate about the Status of Jewish Artists in Paris between the Wars". In Rose-Carol Washton Long; Matthew Baigell; Milly Heyd (eds.). Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture: Anti-Semitism, Assimilation, Affirmation. Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry series. UPNE. p. 86. ISBN 978-1584657958 – via Google Books.
    10. ^ Boston College University Libraries
    11. ^ a b c d e f Roditi, Eduard (1968). "The School of Paris". European Judaism: A Journal for the New Europe, 3(2), 13–20.
    12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wendy Smith, The immigrants who were ‘School of Paris’ artists in early 20th century, Washington Post, June 19, 2015
    13. ^ Stanley Meisner, Albert Barnes and his pursuit of non-French art in Paris, Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2015
    14. ^ Schechter, Ronald; Zirkin, Shoshanna (2009). "Jews in France". In M. Avrum Ehrlich (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Jewish Diaspora: Origins, Experiences, and Culture. Vol. 3. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. pp. 820–831, here: 829. ISBN 9781851098736. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
    15. ^ Jarrasse, Dominique, Guide du patrimoine juif parisien, éditions Parigramme, 2003, pages 213-225
    16. ^ Malcolm Gee, Between Paris and New York: Critical constructions of 'Englishness', c. 1945 - 1960, Art Criticism Since 1900, Manchester University Press, 1993, p. 180. ISBN 0719037840
    17. ^ Auber, Nathalie, 'Cobra after Cobra' and the Alba Congress: From Revolutionary Avant-Garde To Situationist Experiment, Third Text 20.2 (2006), Art Source. Web. 14 Sept. 2015.
    18. ^ "Bernard Cathelin Biography". Archived from the original on 2012-11-18.
    19. ^ a b c d James Voorhies (October 2004). "School of Paris". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
    20. ^ a b c d e f g h "The School of Paris". Philadelphia Museum of Art. 2017.
    21. ^ a b c d John Russell, Art Review: Jewish Artists Who Made Paris Their Exuberant Garret, New York Times, March 10, 2000
    22. ^ "The School of Paris: Paintings from the Florence May Schoenborn and Samuel A. Marx Collection". Museum of Modern Art. 1965. Retrieved November 12, 2017.
    23. ^ "Schule von Paris – Wikipedia – Enzyklopädie". (in German). Retrieved 2023-03-09.
    24. ^ "Macznik".
    25. ^ Peintres Juifs A Paris: École de Paris, Nadine Nieszawer et al., Éditions Denoël, Paris, 2000
    26. ^ Undzere Farpainikte Kinstler, Hersh Fenster, Imprimerie Abècé. 1951
    27. ^ Nurenberg, Amsheĭ (2010). Odessa — Parizh — Moskva. Vospominaniya khudozhnika [Odessa — Paris — Moscow. Memoirs of an artist] (in Russian). Moskva Jerusalim: Mosty kulʹtury Gesharim. ISBN 9785932732892. OCLC 635864735.
    28. ^ PJ Birnbaum (2016). "Chana Orloff: A modern Jewish woman sculptor of the School of Paris". Journal of Modern Jewish Studies. 15 (1, 2016): 65. doi:10.1080/14725886.2015.1120430. S2CID 151740210.
    29. ^ Õhtuleht Näitused 9 May 1998. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
    30. ^ Robert Jenson, Why the School of Paris Is Not French, Purdue University, Artl@s Bulletin, 2013
    31. ^ Korabelʹnikova, Li͡udmila Zinovʹevna (2008). "European Destiny: The Paris School". Alexander Tcherepnin: The Saga of a Russian Emigré Composer. Indiana University Press. pp. 65–70. ISBN 978-0-253-34938-5.

    Further readingEdit

    • Stanley Meisler (2015). Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse. Palgrave Macmillan.
    • West, Shearer (1996). The Bullfinch Guide to Art. UK: Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-0-8212-2137-2.
    • Nieszawer, Nadine (2000). Peintres Juifs à Paris 1905-1939 (in French). Paris: Denoel. ISBN 978-2-207-25142-3.
    • Painters in Paris: 1895-1950, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2000
    • Paris in New York: French Jewish Artists in Private Collections, Jewish Museum, New York, 2000
    • Windows on the City: The School of Paris, 1900–1945, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, 2016
    • The Circle of Montparnasse, Jewish Artists in Paris 1905-1945, From Eastern Europe to Paris and Beyond, exhibition catalogue Jewish Museum New York, 1985
    • Enriched by Otherness : Impact of the Ecole de Paris, written in French by Juliette Gaufreteau, Sorbonne University, translation by Lily Pouydebasque, University College of London. Article available on L'AiR Arts Association website.

    External linksEdit