Michel Kikoïne

1892 1968
(Belarus) 1892 /   (France) 1968

Michel Kikoïne’s parents settled in Rejitsa, a small town near Vitebsk, shortly after the birth of their son Michel. His mother’s father was a rabbi, and his father Peretz Kikoïne worked in a bank. In 1904, the Kikoïne family moved to Minsk, where Michel studied business for three years, and met Soutine who was then working as an apprentice tailor. In 1908, Soutine and Kikoïne attended Kruger’s Art Academy and later the School of Fine Arts in Vilnius, where they met Krémègne. Kikoïne moved to Paris in 1912 and settled at his cousin Joseph’s. He enrolled in the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) at Cormon’s studio. In 1914, he married Rosa Bunimovitz, who he knew since they were in high school in Misnk. She later gave birth to their two children, Claire and Jacques. That same year, Kikoïne settled at La Ruche, where Chagall and Krémègne were already living.

When World War I broke out, he volunteered to join the army. His first solo exhibition took place in 1919 at the Chéron Gallery. Kikoïne was noticed by art lovers. Indeed, the art critic Dr. Montlaur published an article on his painting and M. Descaves, his first collector, bought fifteen paintings and forty drawings.

Between 1922 and 1923, he travelled with Soutine to Céret and Cagnes-sur-Mer and, influenced by the light, painted expressionist landscapes. In 1926, he bought a house in Annay-sur-Serein in the Yonne region. In 1927, he left La Ruche and settled in Montrouge, but returned to Montparnasse in 1933.

In 1939, Kikoïne was mobilized to serve at the Réserve near Soissons, and painted gouaches of garrison life. In 1942, he and his family found refuge in the Toulouse area. Following the Liberation, he returned to Paris. He only left it when he travelled several times to Israel, notably in 1950, where he participated in several exhibitions.

In the last ten years of his life, he frequently visited the Mediterranean coast and stayed at his daughter’s in La Garoupe, where he produced seascapes. In 1964, he was awarded the first prize of the Salon des Peintres témoins de leur temps.

Kikoine died in his studio in Paris on 4 November 1968.