Maurice Mendjizki

1890 1951
(Pologne) 1890 /   (France) 1951

Maurice Mendjizki grew up in a family of artisans. He wanted to become a conductor and left for Berlin in 1906, where he studied at a music school. In 1908, he had to return to Poland in order to do his national service.

In 1909, Mendjizki moved to Paris and lived at La Ruche. His first solo exhibition took place at the Georges Petit gallery in 1912. André Salmon prefaced its catalogue. In 1913, Maurice Mendjizki met Auguste Renoir who invited him to stay at his house Les Colettes in Cagnes. Mendjizki fell in love with this region and lived there for three years.

He moved back to Paris in 1924 and spent time in Montparnasse. There, he met Léopold Zborowski at the café Le Dôme. That same year, he met Kiki de Montparnasse, who was his partner for three years. The nickname Kiki was given by Foujita, who found it difficult to call her Mrs. Mendjizki. Mendjizki left Paris for Cagnes again in 1921, and met his second wife Rosette as he was staying in Saint-Pau-de-Vence.

In 1933, Mendjizki understood the danger of Nazism. He and Paul Signac founded the Mouvement des Intellectuels pour la Paix (Association of Intellectuals for Peace) in which writers, scholars andn poets such as Jacques Prévert took part. While he was in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, he regularly visited his friend Léon Weissberg.

In 1939, the Mendjizki family took refuge in the Alpes-Maritimes region where Maurice joined the Resistance. His wife was arrested in 1942, and his son Claude was killed fourteen days before the Liberation. In 1951, Maurice Mendjizki died of cancer in Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

An album of drawings by Mendjizki on the Warsaw ghetto and a poem by Paul Eluard came out in 1955.