Ecole de Paris – School of Paris

Ecole de Paris is a term that has gained currency but remains hard to define with precision. In 1925, the art critic André Warnod published a book titled The Cradle of New Painting: Montmartre, Montparnasse, l’Ecole de Paris, in which he declared: “L’Ecole de Paris exists. Later, art historians will determine its nature and research its constituent elements, but we can affirm its existence and the force of attraction that makes artists come to us from all over the world.”

During the Middle Ages (late 1200s–late 1400s), the name Ecole de Paris was given to the city’s artistic heart – the workshops and ateliers of the Latin Quarter where the late Gothic crystallized as a style under the influence of art from Italy and the Low Countries. In the 20th century, the name was extended to the international community of émigré artists in the French capital. The chronological boundaries of this phenomenon expanded at the same time as it encompassed increasing stylistic diversification. Initially, scholars, art dealers, and artists themselves attributed the term Ecole de Paris to the interwar era only. Based on formal qualities, a line was drawn between its expressively distorted or Neoclassicist but still objective painting and the avant-garde experiments of the 1910s that began in the 1900s. After World War II, a new wave of émigré artists who embraced abstract painting and began calling themselves the “new” or “young” Ecole de Paris arrived in the French capitalSince common stylistic criteria for a definition could not be found, social aspects of the phenomenon took precedence. Paris embodied a time and space in which an international artistic community with a specific lifestyle and full freedom of artistic expression lived and worked.

The Ecole de Paris was never a school defined by an artistic creed.  Rather, it was a milieu in which artists met, shared experiences, and enriched one another. In recent publications about the School of Paris, Picasso, Archipenko, and Mondrian appear next to Soutine, Chagall, and Kisling.

The diversity of their manners is not a barrier to grouping them. They were all visual artists who worked mainly in the tradition of painting on canvas or carton. In sculpture, traits common to the more outstanding representatives of that art include the introduction of abstract forms, color, and new materials. Although these artists considered themselves to be innovators, their works, in fact, did not transcend the boundaries of art as it was traditionally understood. However, their ideas set the stage for a visual art in the second half of the 20th century that used new materials and media. It is possible today to outline the main stages of the Ecole de Paris, which are divided by two world wars:

1. 19001918. The French capital accommodates the first wave of artists from other countries, including bold trendsetters and initiators of cardinal change in art, such as Picasso, Modigliani, Archipenko, and Brancusi. The center of artistic life shifts from Montmartre to Montparnasse.

2. 19181939. In the interwar period, a second wave of émigrés driven by artistic interests and political events in Eastern Europe arrives to join those who are already settled in Paris. The 1920s are the heyday. Chaim Soutine and Marc Chagall gain wide acclaim, and the Expressionist manner of painting, distorted objects, and variations on the Neoclassicist style become popular.

3. 1945–1960s. A new Ecole de Paris appears, one that is related to the generation of artists who arrive in Paris after World War II and are not familiar with the atmosphere of the interwar era. They help to shape new trends such as “lyrical abstractions,” “art brut,” and “informal art” and begin using acrylic paint.

It is difficult to say precisely when the Ecole de Paris “closed down,” because many foreign artists continue to live and work in Paris today. In the second half of the 20th century, however, a number of factors – such as the shift of the center of world art to North America and artists’ increasing travel and migration between countries – caused this phenomenon gradually to lose its unique features. The time frame of this research spans the years 1900–1939 – the “first” Ecole de Paris from its inception through its heyday.

Vita Susak


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Hordynsky, Sviatoslav

December 17, 1906, Kosiv, now Ivano-Frankivsk oblast – May 8, 1993, Verona, New Jersey, USA

Painter, muralist, graphic artist, poet, critic

From 1924 he studied at the O. Novakivsky School. In 1927 he moved to Berlin; in 1928-1929 he studied at the Modern Academy of F. Léger in Paris as a Sheptytsky scholar. His second stay in Paris took place in 1930-1931. Co-founded ANUM and organized their first exhibition (1931). In 1944 he moved to Munich. From 1947 he lived in the USA. He decorated more than 30 churches in Europe and the USA. He exhibited at L’Atelier français in January 1930 together with M. Krychevsky, M. Tozzi, and others. In 1931 he took part in the International Book Art Salon in Petit Palais and in the Salon of the Association of Artists-Decorators.