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Moïse Kisling

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Moïse Kisling
Moïse Kisling, c.1916
Mojżesz Kisling

22 January 1891
Died29 April 1953(1953-04-29) (aged 62)
Bandol, France
MonumentsSchool of Paris
NationalityPolish, French
Other namesMaurice Kisling, Kiki Kisling
Known forPainting
SpouseRenée Kisling

Moïse Kisling (born Mojżesz Kisling; 22 January 1891 – 29 April 1953) was a Polish-born French painter.[1][2] Born in Kraków, then part of Austria-Hungary, to Jewish parents, Kisling studied at the Academy of Fine Arts. He left for Paris in 1910 at the age of 19. After moving to Montmartre, Kisling became a member of the Parisian avant-garde known also as the School of Paris, and developed close professional relationships with painters Amedeo Modigliani and Jules Pascin, among others. Kisling gained recognition for portraying the female form and completed numerous nudes and portraits during his career.

He became a French national in 1924, after serving and being wounded with the French Foreign Legion in World War I. In 1940, despite being 49, Kisling rejoined the army for World War II but moved to the United States following the French Army's surrender and the impending threat to Jews in occupied France. In the U.S., he exhibited his works in New York City and Washington and settled in Southern California. After World War II and the defeat of Nazi Germany, Kisling returned to France. He lived his later years continuing his artwork until his death in 1953, after a brief illness.

His works are held by museums globally, including the Harvard Art Museums, British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among other institutions. The Musée du Petit Palais in Geneva holds a significant collection of Kisling's paintings.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Kraków, Austria-Hungary on 22 January 1891 to Jewish Parents. He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow with Jozef Pankiewicz.[3][4] His teachers encouraged the young man to go to Paris, France, considered the international center for artistic creativity in the early 20th century. In 1910, Kisling moved to Montmartre in Paris initially living on Rue des Beaux-Arts,[5] and a few years later to Montparnasse.

At the outbreak of World War I, he volunteered for service in the French Foreign Legion. He was seriously wounded in 1916 in the Battle of the Somme.[6] He married Renée Kisling (née Gros) in 1916, and together they had two sons, Jean (1922) and Guy Kisling (1922).[7][8] He acquired French nationality by naturalization in 1924.[9]


Moïse Kisling, 1913, Nu sur un divan noir, oil on canvas, 97 x 130 cm, published in Montjoie, 1914

Kisling lived and worked in Montparnasse and as part of its renowned artistic community, he joined an émigré community of Americans, British and Eastern European artists.[3] Most of the French kept to themselves, although the artistic community was international. In 1911–1912 he spent nearly a year at Céret,[citation needed] and by 1913, he had moved to Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre, where he lived briefly.[5]

Eventually around 1913, he took a home residence and art studio on 3 Rue Joseph-Bara in Montparnasse, however he spent a lot of his time in Southern France in the 1920s.[5] Kisling maintained the Paris residence and studio on Rue Joseph-Bara through World War II, and upon his return after the war it had been ransacked.[5] The artists Jules Pascin, Léopold Zborowski,[10][11] and later Amedeo Modigliani lived in the same building.

He became close friends with many of his contemporaries, including Amedeo Modigliani, who painted a portrait of him in 1916 (in the collection of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris). His style in painting landscapes is similar to that of Marc Chagall. A master at depicting the female body, his surreal nudes and portraits earned him the widest acclaim.

Kisling volunteered for army service again in 1940 during World War II, although he was 49. When the French Army was discharged after the surrender to the Germans, Kisling emigrated to the United States. He rightly feared for his safety as a Jew in occupied France. He exhibited in New York City and Washington. He settled in Southern California, and had his first art exhibition there in 1942.[12] The Kisling family lived next door to Aldous Huxley and his family in Southern California,[7] where they stayed there until 1946.

Under the Vichy government, certain critics suggested too many foreigners, especially Jews, were diminishing French traditions.[13] Their comments were part of a rise in anti-Semitism during the German occupation, resulting in French cooperation in the deportation and deaths of tens of thousands of foreign and French Jews in concentration camps. Kisling returned to France after the war and defeat of Germany.[citation needed]

Death and legacy[edit]

Moïse Kisling died at his house in Bandol, Var, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France on 29 April 1953.[3][14][15] He had been ill with stomach issues for ten days, prior to his death.[14][15] His work is in various public museum collections, including at the Harvard Art Museums,[16] British Museum,[17] the Metropolitan Museum of Art,[18] Tokyo Fuji Art Museum,[19] the Israel Museum,[20] Ikeda 20 Seiki Museum,[21] amongst others. A large collection of Kisling's works is held by the Musée du Petit Palais in Geneva, Switzerland.[22]


Selected exhibitions[edit]


  1. ^ Pologne Michelin, - 2009 "Kisling de Montparnasse - Né dans une famille juive à Cracovie, Moïse Kisling (1891-1953) fut l'élève de "
  2. ^ Sachs, Harvey (1995). Rubinstein: A Life. Grove Press. p. 268. ISBN 978-0-8021-1579-9.
  3. ^ a b c "MOISE KISLING, 62, PARIS ARTIST, DIES; Associate of Cocteau, Picasso and Modigliani, Was Known for Portraits of Women". The New York Times, Time Machine. 30 April 1953. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Artist Biography for Moise Kisling". Askart.com. Retrieved 13 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Hansen, Arlen J. (4 March 2014). Expatriate Paris: A Cultural and Literary Guide to Paris of the 1920s. Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-61145-852-7.
  6. ^ "ULAN Full Record Display, Kisling, Moïse". Getty Research. The J. Paul Getty Trust. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b Meckier, Jerome (11 September 2020). Aldous Huxley Annual: Volume 19 (2019). LIT Verlag Münster. ISBN 978-3-643-91250-3.
  8. ^ Jiminez, Jill Berk (15 October 2013). Dictionary of Artists' Models. Routledge. p. 299. ISBN 978-1-135-95914-2.
  9. ^ "Journal officiel de la République française. Lois et décrets". Gallica. 10 March 1924. Retrieved 23 November 2023.
  10. ^ Johnson, Samuel (July 2017). "Index of Historic Collectors and Dealers of Cubism, Zborowski". The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved 15 September 2020. A budding friendship with Moïse Kisling, whose rue Joseph Bara address Zborowski shared
  11. ^ "Jules Pascin (born Julius Mordecaï Pinkas)". Bureau d'art Ecole de Paris. 3 January 2019. Retrieved 15 September 2020. Pascin settled at 3 rue Joseph- Bara, where Kisling and Zborowski were already living.
  12. ^ California Arts & Architecture. J.D. Entenza. 1942. p. 13.
  13. ^ Elizabeth Campbell Karlsgodt, Defending National Treasures: French Art and Heritage Under Vichy, p. 44 (2011) Quote: "..the prominence of foreign Jewish artists such as Chaïm Soutine, Michel Kikoine, and Moïse Kisling. As a result, certain art critics such as Camille Mauclair claimed that foreign artists were contaminating the French artistic tradition."
  14. ^ a b "Moise Kisling, Noted Painter, Passes Away". Newspapers.com. Green Bay Press-Gazette. 29 April 1953. p. Page 6. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  15. ^ a b "Obituary: Moise Kisling". Newspapers.com. The Guardian. 30 April 1953. p. 4. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Moise Kisling, Krakow Poland 1891 - 1953 Sanary-sur-Mer, France". Harvard Art Museums. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  17. ^ "Moïse Kisling". Collections Online, British Museum. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  18. ^ "Boy in Blue, ca. 1928". The Met. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  19. ^ "Flowers, Moïse Kisling". Tokyo Fuji Art Museum. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  20. ^ "Moise Kisling". The Israel Museum, Jerusalem. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  21. ^ "Permanent collection". Ikeda 20 Seiki Museum.
  22. ^ "Moïse Kisling Biography". Artnet.com. Retrieved 15 September 2020.
  23. ^ Collectif, Double je Jacques Henri Lartigue, peintre et photographe, 1915-1939, Somogy éditions d'art, musée d'art et d'histoire Louis-Senlecq, 2010, p.128 ISBN 978-2-7572-0347-7.
  24. ^ L'affiche de l'exposition est conservée à L'Isle-Adam au Musée d'Art et d'Histoire Louis-Senlecq [fr].
  25. ^ "キスリング展 エコール・ド・パリの夢". キスリング展 エコール・ド・パリの夢 (in Japanese). Retrieved 17 April 2019.

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