Jules Pascin (1885-1930)

Biography

Jules Pascin was a Bulgarian-born French Expressionist painter who painted mainly women, often nude or in stages of undress, using quick, gestural brushstrokes akin to the movements of Cubism or Fauvism. Born in Vidin, Bulgaria in 1885 to an affluent Sephardic Jewish family, Pascin was educated in Austria and Germany before moving to Paris in 1905. Upon his arrival he quickly became associted with the Modernist movement and gained popularity amongst his peers. Pascin regularly exhibited his prints and drawings at important Parisian salons, such as the Salon d'Automne and Salon des Indépendants and at satellite exhibitions of the Berlin Secession. However, he quickly became depressed over his inability to achieve critical success as a painter and enrolled in the Académie Colarossi where he devoted much of his attention to copying Old Masters in the Louvre. Twelve of his paintings were shown at the famous 1913 Armory Show in New York City.

At the outbreak of the first world war Pascin travelled to the United States to avoid serving in the Bulgarian army. He became a naturalised US citizen with the help of photographer and modern art promoter Alfred Stieglitz in 1920. He returned to Paris in 1922 renting a studio in Montmartre and befriending artists such as Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani. Pascin immersed himself in the bohemian community, painting local dancers and prostitutes and inheriting the nickname "The Prince of Montparnasse". Although he achieved success at this time Pascin spent his money quickly and was forced to supplement his income as a book illustrator. He eventually succumbed to depression and alcoholism as he was unable to achieve the critical discourse he so craved. In 1930, on the eve of an important solo show at the Galerie Georges Petite, Pascin took his own life. On the day of his funeral several Parisian galleries closed their doors and members of the artistic community walked for three miles behind his coffin as a mark of respect.