Parisian Muses

Already in the 19th century, Paris gained the title of the global artistic capital. The Seine city attracted countless young, rebellious artists, who looked there for inspiration, as well as their creative “selves". The Parisian artistic colony experienced the greatest boom in the first decades of the 20th century. Already before World War I, it saw the rise of a unique milieu of creators, which, with time, started to be referred to as the École de Paris; that is, the School of Paris. This fascinating community centered around the Montparnasse area continued to develop in the interwar period, with female artists already playing a significant role in the local bohemia. 

Thus, what does this enigmatic title mean? Who were the Parisian muses? Firstly, we need to tell you a few words about models. Numerous studios of painters and sculptors created a demand for live models. At that time, posing in the privacy of an atelier was nothing more than an ordinary profession. Male and female models flocked to the studios of portraitists, e.g. Modigliani, Menkes, or Kisling, "the Prince of Montparnasse". The latter had his atelier at number 3 on the famous Rue Joseph Bara. Among the studio's visitors was Kiki de Montparnasse, a famous Parisian model, a prostitute, and a muse known to many artists. Kisling depicted her in many of his canvases, as did numerous other sculptors and painters of the era. Portraits and nudes were the primary forms created by the representatives of the School of Paris. Zygmunt Józef Menkes and Bolesław Biega were among the artists specializing in these themes.  Menkes' work from the Parisian period was characterized by a noticeable interest in colors, which later evolved into his inspiration with lines. Lines also played an important role in the spherical portraits by Biegas, who created them already in the interwar period. Women have been the muses of artists for centuries. Creators were inspired by their complex personalities, which was particularly noticeable in the art of the representatives of the Parisian artistic bohemia.

In this case, we should take into consideration another important role played by women in the School of Paris.  Already at that time, they created art and were able to compete with men officially.  The interwar period brought about significant cultural changes. Women had established an even better position in society after World War I. Before that, becoming a female painter or sculptor was a great challenge. Later, more and more women could follow the artistic path. In this case, we want to recall a few female representatives. The great lady of the School of Paris - Mela Muter, an excellent portraitist, sensitive painter of still life, and atmospheric landscape painter, undoubtedly comes to the fore. During this period, she gained great popularity and a large group of enthusiasts.  Alicja Halicka was no less popular. She, on the other hand, started her career with a fruitful “adventure" with cubism, which she allegedly abandoned because of her husband, Louis Marcoussis. One of the biggest stars of the Parisian artistic scene, Tamara Łempicka was a member of this fascinating community as well.  Among numerous works from the period, we can also appreciate art by less famous female authors, such as Elizabeth Ronget and Estera Karp.