Moise Kisling (1891-1953)
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Moise Kisling was born in Krakow, Poland and though his parents intended for him to become an engineer, he was drawn to art. At the age of 15 he entered the Art Academy of Krakow where he studied under Pankiewicz and was exposed to the Impressionist style of painting. This inspired Kisling to go to Paris, which he did in 1910. He settled there in the Montparnasse area and became popular amongst the School of Paris artists.
While living in Paris, he would become friends with Modigliani, Picasso, Braque and others who would all have an impact on his style. His friendship with Modigliani lasted their entire lives, and Kisling even had his portrait painted by his friend and fellow painter, now housed at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Kisling would also befriend other bohemian figureheads of the era, such as Jean Cocteau, whose portrait he painted in 1916.
Kisling finally had his first solo exhibition in 1919, which helped to launch his career as an artist. Kisling looked up to fellow artist Andre Derain for the formation of his style, which was a synthesis of Impressionism and other influences. Derain’s bright and lively color palette matched Kisling’s own ideas, which he incorporated with his Slavic teaching on canvas. His Polish heritage was often expressed in intricate designs in his compositions, mingled with Impressionistic technique.
Often, he would sign his work on the front simply “Kisling” followed sometimes by the year.
He has been compared to fellow School of Paris artist Marc Chagall, but his style is truly his own. However, both artists had a dreamy, surreal quality to their work, so it is not surprising that many critics like to compare the two.
During World War I, Kisling fought with the Foreign Legion, and was seriously injured in the first year he served. This, however, was how Kisling was awarded French citizenship, and so he stayed in Paris until war broke out again in 1940. He volunteered to serve for a while, but eventually moved to the United States and lived in California, New York and Washington until 1946. While in New York, Kisling held an exhibition at the Whitney Museum. Upon his return to France, Kisling traveled to the Mediterranean coast, where he lived until his death in 1953.
Today, Kisling’s work is housed all over the world, with the largest collection in the Musee de Petit Palais in Switzerland. Because of his extensive travels in the United States and Europe, it is highly likely that he sold his work along the way, and unknown masterpieces of Kisling’s could be literally anywhere. In the past, one New York City gallery owner was charged in a plot to sell both real and forged copies of Kisling’s work in what would have been a multi-million dollar scheme. Could you have obtained one of these originals? Contact us to find out.
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