Galerie des Modernes

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Expressionism, Montmartre

(1895 – Paris – 1975)


Most of people only know Gen Paul as the painter of La Butte, a disabled person and as a friend of the anti-Semitic writer Céline. All these affirmations are right but expeditious. Gen Paul was born Rue Lepic, in Montmartre, his mother is an embroider and his father a cabaret musician. Gen Paul obtained his studies certificate and immediately worked to earn his life. Since 1913 he tried painting on any support, such as cigars boxes, which are his first medium.

The following year, after the War declaration, he enlisted. Two wounds required amputation of his right leg. Reformed then demobilized, he came back in Paris in 1916 and started painting. His first oil on canvas dated from 1916: Moulin de la Galette, seen through his window. In 1918, he signed his first painting Gen-Paul.

In 1920, he exhibited at Salon d’Automne, and his first solo show took place in the gallery Bing in 1926. This same gallery organizes in 1920 an exhibition with artworks of Gen Paul, Picasso, Rouault, Braques and Soutine. Bing, in a long text dedicated to Gen Paul, puts him at the same level as them. Gen Paul then signs a contract with Bernheim.

Until September 1930, he travelled a lot, always working, captivated by a creative frenzy. During a clandestine trip to New York, he made sketches that are sign of a huge composition. He fights again war wounds and tries to forget pain with alcohol that will lead him to delirium crisis during a trip to Madrid.

Back in Paris, weakened, he lost a large part of his means. Convalescent, he gradually restarts to paint and meets artists and writers: Francis Carco, Marcel Aimé, and Louis-Ferdinand Celine, whom he became friend with and illustrated several books. He also produces engraving, including a collection of Montmartre’s views. After the Second World War, he made several journeys in New York. He finally became renowned in 1952 with an exhibition at Drouant-David gallery.

Gen Paul favourite theme is the movement; he notably painted horse race, cycle race, musicians in action, Parisian street animation. Even when he paints a young woman resting or flowers, he disintegrates contours and forms. 

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