Pinchus Krémègne

1890 1981
(Belarus) 1890 /   (France) 1981

Pinchus Krémègne was the youngest child in a family of nine. His family was religious and humble, and originally came from the Vilnius region. His father produced objects reminiscent of the Slavic folklore. When he was nineteen years old, Pinchus enrolled in the School of Fine Arts in Vilnius, where he studied sculpture and met Soutine and Kikoïne.

Aware that he did not have a future in Russia, where there were then many anti-Semitic persecutions, he left for Paris in 1912. He faced difficulties related to his clandestine departure to La Ruche, “this great Russian hive of activity in Passage Dantzig”. Soutine followed his advice and met him there in 1913. In 1914, Krémègne sculpted and exhibited three artworks at the Salon des Indépendants. In 1915, he gave up sculpture and turned to painting.

In Paris, he discovered the museums and galleries that exhibited works by Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne and impressionist artists. From 1916, he spent time in Montparnasse, where he met Kikoïne, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck and Max Jacob. The art dealers Chéron, Zborowski and Paul Guillaume were his first collectors. In 1918, he discovered Céret, which inspired him, and he often stayed there. From 1920, Krémègne started to travel a lot; he went to Corsica (1923), Cagnes-sur-Mer (1928-1929) and Scandinavia, from where he brought many portraits. In 1923, he married Birgit Strömback with whom he later had a son.

In 1940, he took refuge in Turenne in the Corrèze region. He stayed at the house of a villager and helped to work in the fields. A gallery in Toulouse provided him with colors, which enabled him to keep painting.

Following the Liberation, he returned to Paris and settled in a studio in Rue François-Guibert. From 1949 to 1956, he travelled to Israel. However, it was in Cérét that he found the most inspiration. During the 1960’s, Krémègne bought a plot in Cérét where he built his “studio-house” and he lived there until he died in 1981.