Simon Mondzain (Szamaj Mondszajn aka)

1887 1979
(Pologne) 1887 /   (France) 1979

Simon Mondzain was born in Poland, in Chelm, near Lublin. His father was a saddler. When he was a child, Mondzain knew he wanted to be a painter but his family was not agree. After a quarrel, Mondzain lefts his family to get to « L'Ecole des Arts et Métiers » in Warsaw. There he finds some temporaries jobs to a saddler and to a picture retoucher.

In 1905, he gets to the school of Fine Arts of Warsaw thanks to the support of the Dabkowski's family and he works in the workshop of Kazimierz Stabrowski.

In 1908, he goes to Cracow helped by a jewish association. Then he gets into the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts and discover, with Teodore Axentowicz and Josef Pankiewicz, the french impressionism.

After his first exhibition in Cracow in 1909, he gets a financial aid and goes to Paris.

In 1910, he pursues his scolarship in Cracow and becomes friend with Kisling and Waclaw Zawadowski (Zawado). In 1912, Mondzain goes back to Paris and finds back his friends Kisling, Merkel and Zawadowski. He lives in a small room Le Goff street.

Mondzain meets the art critic Adolphe Basler, Max Jacob, André Derain and Othon Friesz.

In 1913, he stays in Bretagne and he finishes his diaries.

The First World War starts, Mondzain is in Spain. He goes back to Paris and volunteers the polish division of the Foreign Legion.

From 1915 to 1918, he draws his soldier life. In november 1917, he goes back to Paris.

In 1920, he goes to the United States, hosted by the Fine Arts Club in Chicago.

In 1923, he travels in France and paints landscapes. In the « Salon des Indépendants », four of his works are bought by the french police officer Zammaron. In 1923, he gets the french nationality and also becomes a member of the « Salon des Tuileries ».

In 1925, Mondzain goes with the painter Jean Launois in Algeria, meets his future wife Simone, a doctor. In 1927, his friend Jerzy Merkel writes about him in the magazine « Menora » published in Vienna : "Von Kunst und Künstlers".

In 1933, the Mondzain family settles in Alger then the painter shares his life beetween France and Algeria.

During the Second World War, he remains in Algeria with his friends Albert Marquet and André Gide who finds in Mondzain a top chess player.

From 1939 to 1942, he receives in Alger a lot of polish refugees. He gets friend with the abbot Walzer, an anti-fascist benedictine german.

In 1944, after his friend Max Jacob died in the concentration camp of Drancy, he writes his souvenirs : « Max Jacob et Montparnasse », published in L'Arche.

After the war, Simon Mondzain lives a double life beetween Paris and Alger, untill the independance of Algeria in 1962. Then, the Mondzain family settles in Montparnasse where he dies in 1979.