Jules Pascin


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Painter, draftsman, and printmaker. Born in Vidin, Bulgaria, as a child Julius Mordecai Pincas moved with his family to Bucharest, Romania, and later resided in Vienna, Prague, and Berlin. He changed his surname in 1905, after arriving in Paris, where he spent much of his subsequent life. There he belonged to the Montmartre circle that included Chagall, Modigliani, and Chaïm Soutine. In the United States, his art was highly regarded for its sophisticated French tone, and he influenced a number of American figure painters who sought a cosmopolitan alternative to straightforward realism. In his earlier years, Pascin portrayed the low life of European centers—entertainers, prostitutes, circus people—often with hints of wickedness and depravity. Later, although he also painted still lifes and portraits, he focused on the female figure, usually nude or semidraped, and at its best, combining tenderness with unsparing observation. Described in a delicate but precise linear style, Pascin's insubstantial women emit a low-keyed, provocative sexuality (which on occasion veers into explicit description). Although less interested in volume and structure, in his patchy handling of paint Pascin learned much from Cézanne, but his line derived largely from the examples of Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. Pascin moved to New York the year after his work was shown in the 1913 Armory Show. During the next few years he experimented briefly with cubism but also made numerous drawings and watercolors on travels in the South, Southwest, and Cuba. He became an American citizen in 1920 but soon returned to France. After a visit of nearly a year in 1927–28, he permanently left the United States. He committed suicide in Paris.

Subjects: Art.

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