22.01.1891 (Kraków, Poland) - 29.04.1953 (Sanary-sur-Mer, France)
Country: Kisling was born in Poland, but granted French citizenship in 1915.
Kisling was born in Krakow, Austria-Hungary (now Poland) and began drawing in early childhood. He enrolled at the Krakow Academy of fine arts – 15 years old – where he studied under professor Józef Pankiewicz. Afterwards, at the age of 19, he moved to Paris, which was the international centre for artistic creativity at that time.
Soon Kisling found himself in the Parisian artistic community. For a while the talented artist lived in the Bateau-Lavoir (literally ‘washing boat’, referring to the messy interior and the creaking sounds during stormy days), a renowned building in Montmartre in the 18th arondissement, where small studios where rented out and which served as an artistic meeting place. Artists such as Matisse, Picasso, Modigliani and Van Dongen had taken residence in Le Bateau-Lavoir as well. Together with his friends Picasso and Max Jacob, Kisling travelled to the southern French village Céret in 1911, where Fauvism originated when Henri Matisse and André Derain had worked there in 1905. During the First World War Kisling served in the Légion Étrangère (the French Foreign Legion), consisting of foreign nationals who volunteered for the front. After being seriously wounded during the so-called Battle of the Somme, Kisling was granted French citizenship in 1915.
Kisling’s first great success took place in 1919, when he exhibited his work at Galerie Druet in Paris. The American collector Albert Barnes – founder of the Barnes Foundation in Pennsylvania, which houses an immense collection of modern art – purchased several works by Kisling during his visit in 1923. Kisling worked hard and became a famous artist whose works sold well. He even started to arrange weekly lunches at his studio, to which he invited artists, writers, actors, musicians, politicians and lawyers.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Kisling and his family moved to the United States, where he would stay until 1946. He successfully continued exhibiting his work, in New York and Washington, and received many commissions. After the war he returned to France and settled in Sanary-sur-Mer in the Provence, where he passed away in 1953. The street where Kisling and his family lived has been named after him. The eldest son Guy still lives in the family house, the younger son, Jean, lives in Paris and published a catalogue raisonné of Moise Kisling’s works.
Work by Moïse Kisling is to be found in the collection of several international museums, among others: the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Chi-Mei Museum in Taiwan, Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Nowadays, the largest collection of Kisling’s pictures is to be found at the Musée du Petit Palais in Geneva.