Maurice Mendjizki

1890 1951
(Pologne) 1890 /   (France) 1951

Maurice Mendjizki grew up in a craftsmen family. He wants to become orchestra conductor and leaves for Berlin in 1906 to study in musical creation school.

In 1908, he has to go back to Poland to fulfil his military service obligation. 

In 1909, Mendjizki settles down in Paris. He lives at the Hive (La Ruche). His first personal show takes place at the George Petit gallery in 1912; André Salmon will write the preface of his catalogue.

In 1913, Maurice Mendjizki meets Renoir who invites him to spend some days in his house, “les Colettes”, in Cagnes. Mendjizki falls in love with this region and settles down there for three years. 

Back in Paris in 1924, he hangs out in Montparnasse, the “Dôme” and meets Léopold Zborowski. On the same year, he meets the woman who will become his partner for three years: Kiki of Montparnasse. Kiki is the nickname that Foujita had given her. Foujita had a hard time calling her Madam Mendjizki and had ended up calling her Kiki. 

Mendjizki leaves Paris for Cagnes again in 1921 and, during a break in Saint-Paul de Vence, meets his second wife Rosette.

In 1933, Mendjizki sees the Nazi threat rising. With Paul Signac, he founds the “Movement of the Intellectuals for Peace” that gathers writers, scientists and poets among which Jacques Prévert.

In 1939, the Mendjizki family hides in the Alpes-Maritimes where Maurice takes part in the Resistance. His wife is arrested in 1942 and his son, Claude, is killed 14 days before the Liberation. 

Maurice Mendjizki dies of a cancer in 1951, in Saint-Paul de Vence.

In 1955, the album of Mendjizki’s drawing on the ghetto of Warsaw is published with a poem of Paul Eluard.