KISLING Moise
( 1891-1953) Born in Cracow, Poland; died at Sanary, Var. His father was a Jewish tailor. Kisling's art presents rather clearly the characteristics of what is called the École de Paris, in the sense that he tried to associate the ideas of French art with those of his ethnic temperament. As a boy he was so gifted a draughtsman that his family wished to make him an engineer. At that time all painting in this region was entirely dominated by that of Munich. But at fifteen he entered the Academy at Cracow, where his teacher was Pankiewicz, who opposed the Munich style of art then in fashion in Poland and initiated Kisling into the art of the Impressionists he had known personally. On the advice of his teacher, Kisling went to Paris in 1910 and settled at Montparnasse, where his witty joviality, charming, sensitive nature, along with his talent, made him one of the most picturesque and likeable figures of the quarter. He takes a trip to Brittany, then in 1911-1912, he lives in Céret near Braque, Picasso, Juan Gris and the poet Max Jacob. During this period he paints landscapes inspired by Cézanne, but among the painters of his time it is Derain who impresses him most. At the time of the 1914- 1918 war he joined the Foreign Legion, was wounded in 1914, and then invalided out. He became a French citizen in 1915. Between 1917 and 1920 he lived in the South of France, then returned to Paris, where he had a successful exhibition at the Galerie Druet in 1919. He was one of Amedeo Modigliani's closest friends and helped him till the very last. Cubism was one of the influences on his eclectic early work. His art always reflected a dynamism of coloured form, which he inherited from his Slav origins. Under the influence of the French sense of proportion, particularly that of Derain, he tried for a time to repress his sensual exuberance. Despite the apparent gaiety of his character, Kisling often painted female nudes and young boys' faces which show something of Modigliani's melancholy. This melancholy, often obscured by passages of bravura, is completely dispelled from his portraits of actresses and fashionable women, in which his brio and verve are magnified to enhance the effect of his brilliant colouring.
In 1928-1930 he takes a new trip to Holland, and in 1940 he left for the United States. At the end of the war early in January 1945 the Galerie Guénégaud exhibited a collection of his recent paintings. In September 1946 Kisling returned to Paris. He died at Sanary (Var) in 1953.
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