Louis Marcoussis, son of Gerszon Markous, cultivated industrial of Warsaw, leaves to study at the Fine Arts Academy of Krakow in 1901.
He studies in the impressionist studio of Jan Stanislawski. He hangs out with the “young Poland” group gathering writers and other artists fond of French culture. Thanks to the money granted by his father, Marcoussis goes to Paris in 1903.
He works for three months at the Julian Academy, then studies in the studio of Jules Lefebvre and meets Roger de la Fresnay and Robert Lotiron. His father, going through financial troubles cannot afford to sustain him anymore; Marcoussis collaborates with the magazines Revue Parisienne and Assiette au Beurre to make a living.
In 1904, he travels through Spain and stays in Saint-Sebastian at his uncle Milner’s.
In 1910, he meets Guillaume Apollinaire who advises him to adopt the pseudonym of Marcoussis inspired by a village close to Montlhéry. He introduces him to George Braque and Pablo Picasso. Marcoussis joins the Cubism and shows his painting with the group at the Golden Section (“La section d’or”). He integrates the repertoire of the cubist’s shapes in his works: guitars, pipes, bottles and glasses on a pedestal table, playing cards, pack of tobacco. He hangs out at the Ami Emile café, on Ravignan Square in Montparnasse and bonds with Max Jacob, Juan Gris, Albert Gleizes and Francis Picabia. On July 13, 1913, he marries Alice Halicka. The young couple settles down at the 61, Rue Caulincourt and stays there until 1939.
The First World War breaks out; Marcoussis enrols in the French army, is promoted lieutenant and receives the cross of war, a French military medal. In 1919, 1921 and 1923 Marcoussis travels to Poland and it is during this period that he gets interested in the FIXE SOUS VERRE technique that he will use until 1929. On March 3, 1922, Alice Halicka gives birth to their daughter Madeleine.
In 1927, Marcoussis stays in Krity, in Britany and in Trébou, near Douarnenez where Max Jacob would come to see him from Quimper. On that same year, he also stays in Toulon. Marcoussis then emerges from cubism to move closer to surrealism. He paints the series of the Big Shells (1927) and the series of the Still Lives.
Between 1931 and 1937, he stops painting to focus on engraving that he will teach from 1933 at the Schläepfer Academy, in Montparnasse. He makes a series of etchings for Alcools by Apollinaire in 1934 and comes back to painting in 1937.
The end of his life is punctuated by his journeys to the US (1934-1935) and to Italy (1938).
On June 12, 1940, he hides in Cusset, in the Allier with his wife and daughter. Louis Marcoussis starts feeling the first symptoms of the illness that will take his life away on October 22, 1941.
On his grave, Alice Halicka has carved these lines of Apollinaire:
“We will not see each other on earth anymore
Remember that I will wait for you forever more…”
Nieszawer & Princ
"Artistes juifs de l'Ecole de Paris 1905-1939"
Editons Somogy 2015
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