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The Bohemian King of Three Mounts: Montmartre, Montparnasse, and Mount Venus

By Béa Aaronson

“No other artist, with the exception of Picasso,
has drawn with as much passion and diabolical brilliance.”
− George Waldemar

Julius Mordechai Pincas, the Wandering Jewish artist, was born in Vidin, Bulgaria, in 1885. His father, a very successful grain merchant, was a Sephardic Jew of Turkish-Spanish descent, and his mother, of Serbian-Italian Jewish origins. The eighth of eleven children, Julius enjoyed a very comfortable life, but the prospect of following his father in his booming business did not enchant him, to say the least. All he wanted to do was to draw, paint, and enjoy life. Already at sixteen he was a habitué of the brothels. He slept there and felt at home among the prostitutes and the clients, sketching them in their most intimate relationships. He was a bit like Toulouse Lautrec, to whom he has often been compared.

Jules Pascin: The Wandering Jew
Mon, Jan 18, 4pm
The Jewish Cultural Center of San Miguel, the JC3
Calle de Las Moras 47, corner Cinco de Mayo
For reservations call 415 185 9191
or email
130 pesos members/150 pesos non-members

Julius Pincas changed his name to Jules Pascin (an anagram) not to offend his family because of his way of life and, most of all, because of the erotic content of his paintings. He drank too much, he loved too much, he partied too much. His generosity was boundless; inviting 20 people for dinner in a very expensive restaurant was his joy and pride. Ernest Hemingway immortalized the great painter fornicator in A Moveable Feast, dedicating a chapter to him, “With Pascin at the Dôme.”

Pascin created thousands of sketches, caricatures, drawings, watercolors, and paintings. But his predilection was for the feminine figure! Young pubescent girls, like fallen angels, and savvy prostitutes, waiting nonchalantly for their customers.

I shall talk to you about his two loves, his wife, Hermine David, herself an engraver and painter, whom he married in 1918, and his mistress, Lucy Krogh, model at the Matisse Academy and wife of Per Krogh, the Norwegian painter and nephew of Edward Munch. I shall discuss his unique sensuous style. Although associated with what is called L’Ecole de Paris, The School of Paris—together with Chagall, Zadkine, Modigliani, Kisling, Soutine, who were all foreigners and Jews—Pascin never belonged to any “movement.” Pascin followed his own creative path recognizable by the way he combined line and color.

His lines do not enclose form; they vibrate and express the very essence of what he describes. Nobody has painted human flesh like he did. He caressed the canvas. His mother-of-pearl effect is still unsurpassed today. I invite you to listen to Pascin’s magic and tragic tale—he committed suicide at the age of 45, in 1930, in a most atrocious way—and rejoice in the subtle and not-so-subtle sensuous expression of his love for life, women, and art.


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