Marc Sterling

1895 1976
(Ukraine) 1895 /   (France) 1976

Marc Sterling was born in Pryluky, a small town in Ukraine, where his father worked as a grain merchant. At the age of twelve, he became the apprentice of an icon painter in a neighboring city. In 1909, as he was fourteen years old, he gave up crafty apprenticeship and left to study painting at the Academy of Odessa, where he also got acquainted with sculpture. In 1916, following his mother’s death, he left for Moscow and enrolled in the School of Fine Arts. The following year, Sterling was involved in the Revolution and in the Russian avant-garde movements. He studied under Vladimir Tatlin at the Vhutemas, a revolutionary school that combined the School of Fine Arts and the School of Decorative Arts. He got in touch with revolutionary artists, including Maïakovski, with whom he spent time at the studios where the propaganda posters were produced. In 1922, Maïakovski led Sterling to go to Berlin. He met Basia, a young Polish student who later became his wife and gave him two children.

The couple arrived in Paris in 1923 and settled at the Hôtel Médical. They spent times at the terraces of cafés in Montparnasse where the artists met up. He signed a three-year contract with the Zak gallery.

During the Second World War, Marc Sterling and his family took refuge at friends’ places. In 1941, Basia died as a consequence of an operation. During the five following years, Sterling totally lost touch with the artistic community in Paris.

Back in Paris in 1947, he acquired French nationality and met his friends in Montparnasse. He exhibited his work in France and abroad. Marc Sterling met Éliane, a Swiss sculptor who was Zadkine’s student. She became his partner in 1953. They settled in Peseux, near Neuchâtel, Switzerland. In 1956, he moved back to Paris and travelled to Holland, Italy, Spain and Israel.