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Pere Creixams is one of the most important Spanish painters of the School of Paris
Pere Modesto Luis Creixams was born on November 9, 1893 in Barcelona, in a popular neighborhood called Poble Sec. Creixams has always claimed his origin: "I leave the sidewalk, the Mediterranean sidewalk ...". Pere is the only son of Ramon Creixams Roig and Catarina Picó both from a poor family. His father has died young in 1906. He lives alone with his mother on the 5th floor of number 61, calle dels Tallers (street leading from the Rambla de les Estudis to the Universitat).
Father Creixams then does many small jobs. Then he becomes a printer. In the evening, he goes to class at Escuela Moderna (Modern School). He says he learned to read in the "red and anarchist books". Indeed, this school was opened in 1901 by Francisco Ferrer, an important leader and anarchist pedagogue. It was a secular school whose educational project was based on rationalist pedagogy.
In 1910, Creixams wants to satisfy his nascent passion, the theater, and he enters the Conservatorio del Gran Teatro del Liceu in Barcelona. In 1916, he goes to Paris to pursue his career as an actor.
Creixams arrives in Paris in 1917, in Montparnasse more exactly when the historical and social context is not favorable, and even more so when one is foreign. He starts at François Bernouard, at La Belle Édition in 1917. Then it was within the Imprimerie Union, engaged as a phoenician, that the literary, poetic and artistic world opened up to him. The meeting with the writer Florent Fels is decisive. He presents to him all the intellectual Paris: the poet, art critic and writer André Salmon who nicknamed him Pierre the printer, the Swiss writer Blaise Cendrars, Max Jacob, Andre Malraux, Raymond Radiguet and the painter Amedeo Modigliani.He meets Marie Lebourg, always called "Madeleine" by Creixams and all their friends. He marries on October 4, 1919 at the town hall of Rouen, city of the bride.
Creixams begins in art under the guidance of the painter Othon Friesz and it is the time of the first successes. In 1921, he exhibits at the Parnasse café (Les Cent du Parnasse exhibits at the café) and during the Exhibition of the nude at the Montaigne Gallery in Paris. His portraits of women are marked by the style of the illustrious representative of the School of Paris, Amedeo Modigliani.
Florent Fels presents him to the famous Parisian art dealer Paul Guillaume installed 39, rue La Boétie. He offers to sign a contract to commit to deliver his entire artistic production from November 1921 to June 1922. The paintings of Creixams are exhibited alongside those of André Derain, Pablo Picasso, Maurice de Vlaminck , Henri Matisse and Amedeo Modigliani ...
" The paintings of Creixams are exhibited alongside those of André Derain, Pablo Picasso, Maurice de Vlaminck , Henri Matisse and Amedeo Modigliani "
Thereafter, Creixams works with the gallerist Pierre Loeb with whom he signs a contract in 1925. Located at the corner of the rue de Seine and the rue des Beaux-arts, the famous Galerie Pierre which, from 1927 to 1963, represented many artists who marked the twentieth century (Braque, Klee, Chirico, Derain, Dufy, Gromaire, Leger, Miro, Pascin, Picasso, Soutine, Masson, Man Ray ...)
In painting, he turns to his Spanish ancestors, El Greco, Francisco de Goya and Diego Velazquez to affirm their artistic legacy. His admiration for Pablo Picasso is also felt in his production of the 1920s and he retains the lesson of the painter of the poors, acrobats and guitarists.
From 1922, he moves to Montmartre and frequents the old Bateau-Lavoir such as Pablo Picasso, Max Jacob, André Salmon. His friends from the literary circle of Florent Fels support him and Creixams becomes the friend of the writers. The painter becomes an illustrator and collaborates with the duo writer and publisher Pascal Pia and Rene Bonnel on the unpublished poem by Charles Baudelaire, published after the original manuscript which he adorns with eight etchings.
Creixams embarks on the portrait and takes as models his friends, artists and writers (Florent Fels, Edgar Du Perron Eddy, Georges Duhamel, Colette, Paul Fierens, Andre Gaillard, Jean Paulhan, André Suares, the Tharaud brothers).
Creixams makes a name for himself by exhibiting in parisian galleries and Salons. (Salon des Indépendants, Salon d'Automne, Salon des Tuileries). His painting will also be broadcast in Catalonia. In Paris, he frequents Catalan artists, like him exiled, or staying in the French capital, such as Joaquín Torres García, Eugenio d'Ors and Joan Miró. This network allows a great solidarity between artists. In Barcelona, in the same way, Creixams maintains friendships. His meeting with the critic and painter Rafael Benet opens the doors of the artistic world of Barcelona. The success of Creixams is total: it is presented in avant-garde galleries of the city, in the Salons and his works attract the eye of collectors (Galeríe Dalmau, Sala Parés, Syra Art Galleries). He exhibits his works regularly at the Exposició de Primavera [Spring Exhibition], the Saló de Montjuïc.
The painting of Creixams is inspired first of all by the Catalan noucentist. This movement, which began around 1906 and lasts until the beginning of the civil war in 1936, is artistic and political and proposes a renovation of society. Eugenio d'Ors, the theoretician of this new aesthetic, wants an artistic regeneration in Catalonia. Then Creixams quickly evolves towards a popular and direct realism claimed by the new generation of artists called Generació del 17. His landscapes are very constructed, geometrical, fruit of a great admiration for Paul Cézanne.
Creixams' attachment to his country is reflected in his regular stays in Catalonia throughout his life. The summer period was privileged and the small fishing village of Tossa de Mar welcomed the artist during many stays. These returns in Catalonia give Creixams a new inspiration and a more personal style. Tossa, haven of peace and site of great beauty, becomes under its impulse, a true artistic and intellectual center. Creixams and Benet draw with them their Catalan friends: Emili Bosch Roger, Francesc Ribera Camps, Josep Gausachs, Francesc Domingo, Josep Mompou, Manuel Humbert, Emili Grau Sala, Enric Casanovas. But the attraction goes beyond the Catalan borders thanks to the knowledge of the artist who invites his Parisian friends, writers, with Florent Fels in mind, Georges Charensol, Georges Duthuit and artists such as Albert Marquet, Roger Wild, George Kars and Marc Chagall .
After spending the summer of 1934 in Tossa with many artists, Creixams does not return to Paris and stays in Catalonia until 1937. In fact, he is appointed professor at the Escola Superior de Paisatge d'Olot. Then comes the year 1937 marking a historic and political turning point for Catalonia and Spain. Creixams is artistically committed to the Republicans. It was on this date that the Catalan government choose him to illustrate a propaganda work published by the Comissariat of Propaganda of the Generalitat.
He lives in Barcelona the first armed clashes, but finally, the situation deteriorating, he returns to live in Paris on February 20, 1937. He leaves Catalonia in full civil war and he will return there only after an exile of eleven years. Following his drawings, he makes paintings in 1939 illustrating the Retirada describing the flight to France of thousands of Spanish Republicans.
This return to France, during the Second World War, and the period of the Occupation is difficult. But Montmartre welcomes him once again with open arms and Creixams finds his friends in the Butte Montmartre, writers, painters and singers. He becomes an essential Montmartre figure alongside Marcel Aymé, Pierre Mac-Orlan, Gen Paul among others. The traditional festive atmosphere that reigns in Montmartre perfectly suits the bon vivant character of Creixams. The distance for several years from his native country has resulted in a painting with deep Spanish accents.
Creixams is experiencing a period of low artistic activity. All the same, from 1938, he participates again in the different Parisian Salons. In addition, he exhibits as a Montmartre artist in group exhibitions but also alongside his compatriots Catalan. It is devoted to regular individual exhibitions by the Parisian galleries. (Galerie Delpierre, Galerie Pétridès, Elysée Gallery, Galerie Charpentier ...)
In Barcelona, from the Spanish Civil War, Creixams no longer exposes. It was not until 1948, the year that marks his return to Sala Parés. This gallery, always faithful to the artist, organizes individual exhibitions as well as La Pinacoteca gallery.
Creixams and Madeleine married since 1919, have moved away from each other. Creixams meets around 1940 Nana de Herrera (1905-1991) and from their love is born a child. Nana de Herrera, a major figure in Parisian social life during the Roaring Twenties, is a classical Spanish ballet dancer. She was the model of Max Ponty for his design of the famous pack of cigarettes Gitanes (Seita). She also played some roles in the cinema, before and after the war. She is, among others, still famous for the portrait made by Tamara de Lempicka in 1928 at the request of the Austro-Hungarian Baron Raoul Kuffner. A distant echo of Joël Martel's advertising, which represented her in a dance pose in 1926, Lempicka's painting seems to have been made to emphasize her personality.
Creixams begins in the 1940s, a career as a worldly portraitist. He frequents theater and cinema. His favorite subjects are Spanish or evocation of Spain. Gypsies, majas, dancers, bullfighters evolve between reality and fantasy. During the Occupation, Creixams frequents the painter Gen Paul, the Agile Rabbit at 4 rue des Saules and the Chez Manière restaurants, rue Caulaincourt and Chez Pomme. At the end of the 1940s, Gen Paul invents his "Chignolle à Gégène", a kind of thunderous fanfare, in which he trains all the artists of Montmartre: Creixams, Frank-Will, Tony Agostini, Roger Bertin, Jean d'Esparbès ...
" Pere Creixams is a wrestler with square shoulders and massive torso, he competes without fear with the terrible difficulties of the most subtle of the arts " (Pierre Mac Orlan)
The painter surrounded himself with many figures of the literary milieu. The writer Pierre Mac Orlan said "Creixams is a wrestler with square shoulders and massive torso, he competes without fear with the terrible difficulties of the most subtle arts." Creixams continued to bring his talents as illustrators for books: for Joy on the Land of René Fauchois, De Tapioca to Grandmother Dobrovna Henry Bry and Daphne Georges Charaire.
Creixams lived in Montmartre but never stopped going to Barcelona where he met his Catalan friends. He always stayed in a flat calle Colon. He died on March 5, 1965 of a cardiac arrest in the city where he was born.
Sharing all his life between his native Catalonia and France, country of adoption, Creixams remained a figure of the Butte Montmartre. His dual identity of Catalan and Montmartre summarizes his life: while keeping the nostalgia of Catalonia, the Parisian exile has enriched his palette, the complexity of his work bears witness.
Member of the Salon d'Automne, also exhibiting at the Salon des Tuileries, Creixams has also exhibited in the largest galleries in Paris, such as Galerie Pierre, Galerie Charpentier, Galerie Delpierre, Galerie Pétridès, The Elysée Gallery, and Barcelona, such as Sala Parés, La Pinacoteca, Dalmau Gallery, Syra Art Galleries.
The record for Pere Creixams' public auction was established at Christie's on November 30, 1993 in London. £ 11,250 GBP (sales fees included) for a 92 x 73 cm oil on canvas entitled "Portrait of a woman with a pink shirt". The actualized amount in March 2018: £ 18,150 GBP or $ 29,000 USD.
Then "Two girls" (€ 14,300 fdvi) oil on canvas at Drouot, Paris in 1996, "Maternity" (€ 13,000 fdvi) oil on canvas at Fontainebleau, 1994, etc ...
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