PARIS (School of)
'L'École de Paris' was the name given to a group formed after the First World War by a number of foreign painters, brought to Paris by similar needs and united by similar affinities. Since then the name has acquired a looser meaning. Originally, the School of Paris consisted of Modigliani, Pascin, Chagall, Kisling, Soutine (q.v.): an Italian, a Bulgarian, a Russian, a Pole and a Lithuanian. To these can be added the names of Leopold Gottlieb, Eugene Zak, Krémegne, three Poles; Mintchine, a Ukrainian; Max Band, a Lithuanian. All these painters were of foreign birth, and however diverse their ideas, temperaments, ways of life, they were brought together by common bonds of age and race. They belonged to the same generation, all having been born between 1884 and 1900, and they were all Jews. These uprooted ones liked France and drew from French sensibility, thought, and art the elements they needed to bring their gifts to fulfilment. But as painters they did not succeed in making themselves French. Contemporary with the Cubists, they did not espouse their theories nor follow their example. They always remained lyricists, romantics, expressionists and passionate individualists. Looking out upon the world through tormented souls, they rendered it with a subtle and disenchanted grace: like Modigliani, or, in a burst of desperation, like Soutine. Whatever their individual style, all shared the same disquiet, the same moral suffering under different forms. These Expressionists were very different from the French, German, Scandinavian or Flemish Expressionists. It is possible, therefore, to speak of a school, but to speak of a School of Paris is less accurate. Besides, these three words have acquired an increasingly wide meaning.
For many the ' School of Paris' tends to include all the immigrant painters who have settled in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower since the beginning of the century: Picasso, Juan Gris, Van Dongen and Foujita as much as Chagall, Kisling and Pascin. For several years opinion outside France has tended to identify the School of Paris with all the innovating activity of modern painters who work in Paris, the artistic movement that develops and feeds on all the contributions and personalities attracted by the universal prestige of French painting.
In short, for most people today the School of Paris is synonymous with the vanguard of contemporary painting.