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By 1920 Michelson was living in Paris and had established an international reputation for his paintings, prints, and sculptures. As a prominent member of the Paris School his works were shown in major exhibits throughout Western Europe, the Soviet Union, and the United States. After the fall of Paris to Nazi Germany in 1939, Michelson fled to New York City, where he spent the rest of his life.
Michelson is described as an "eternal emigrant, eternal student" because he was always studying and experimenting with new styles. Michelson actually carried crayons with him so he could sketch where ever he was. Art historians have compared Michelson to both Chagall and Picasso, but it was Titian who Michelson said was his inspiration.
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