Michel Kikoine (1892-1968)
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Michel Kikoine was an Impressionist painter born in Belarus, who would become known for his beautiful landscapes. He began studying art as a boy at the Kruger School of Drawing in Minsk, the Belarusian capital. Here he met and became friends with fellow artists Soutine and Kremegne whom he remained friends with all his life. At the age of 19, Kikoine moved to the Montparnasse district of Paris with his two friends to pursue his artistic career.
While in Paris, Kikoine studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts. Among his many teachers were Pissarro and Cezanne, whose teachings would have a lasting impression on the artist.
Because of his artistic training and the time that he was active, Kikoine is considered to be an artist from the School of Paris. Like his masters, Kikoine would employ rich beautiful colors in bold strokes to create an Impressionist style. He would also typically sign his work “Kikoine” somewhere on the front of his canvas.
Kikoine had his first exhibit in 1919, and afterwards would often show his work at the Salon d’Automne. Kikoine married in 1914 and had a daughter and a son, Jankel Jacques, who would also become a painter. Kikoine gained enough success as a painter for his family to live comfortably. He would spend the summers with his family in the country, where he would paint landscapes in homage to Cezanne. In 1926, he settled for a while on a farm in the Burgundy region where he worked with Soutine, Kremegne and others.
The onset of World War II kept Kikoine and his family out of Paris, due to the fact that they were Jewish. Somehow they managed to avoid deportation and death by hiding out in Toulouse during the war. Kikoine is one of many Jewish painters from the Montparnasse area to have survived the Holocaust, and much of his work is now housed in Jewish and Holocaust museums worldwide.
Upon the liberation of France, Kikoine moved back to Paris and resumed painting. However, most of his post-World War II paintings are self-portraits, portraits and nudes. He spent the last decade of his life in Cannes in the south of France, where he would again paint landscapes until his death.
Kikoine traveled all over France during his lifetime and was a fairly prolific painter. Some of his work was no doubt lost or stolen during the German occupation of France, so there could be treasured Kikoine works out there, unauthenticated and otherwise unknown. Still wondering about a landscape painting hanging in your home? It may be by Michel Kikoine…contact us to find out.