Lithuanian-born French painter. The greatest of the French expressionists, he used brilliant colours and thick, energetically applied paint to create intense, emotionally charged works, mostly landscapes and portraits. Page Boy (1927; Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York) is typical.
Born in Smilovitchi, Lithuania, he studied briefly at the art school in Vilna, and then found his way to Paris, where he lived a poverty-stricken life among painters and poets. He developed his distinctive style 1919–21 after studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He was a close friend of the painter Modigliani, on whose death he retired for a while to Céret, painting tormented canvases. After 1923, however, when Zborowski, the dealer to whom Modigliani had introduced him, arranged an exhibition, he had a measure of success in Paris.
The expressionist distortion of his work recalls van Gogh, and he shows a remarkable intensity of colour in his still lifes, a plucked fowl and a side of beef (an allusion to Rembrandt's famous work) being characteristic subjects.
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