Marcel Mouly is the epitome of 20th-century modernism. In his paintings, he embraced and manifested the great styles of the century, including Fauvism and Cubism. The scintillating colors of his seaside paintings are reminiscent of those of the Fauvist master, Henri Matisse. Yet his post-Cubist forms, which he employed primarily in his interior scenes, invoke inspiration with Picasso.
Unlike most of the major artists of the 20th-century like Picasso, Braque, and Matisse, Mouly was self-taught and did not receive artistic scholarships from any major art institution. Nevertheless, this did not stop the artist from being a major proponent of Fauvism and Post-Cubism; and more importantly, from finding his own persona and style. After a series of hardships during the Second World War, Mouly became an active participant in the Parisian art circle. Exhibitions of his paintings began to circulate at major galleries such as the Salon d’Automne and Salon de Mai; venues where Pablo Picasso’s works were already regularly exhibited. In 1953, Mouly was given a much deserved recognition when his works were exhibited alongside Picasso’s at the Salon de Mai.
Even though Mouly was admittedly a bigger fan of Matisse, the works and personality of Picasso greatly inspired him. The experience of closely watching Picasso smoking a cigarette, talking about art, discussing his paintings, strongly influenced Mouly’s desire to become a successful painter. After such meetings with Picasso, the artist would literally rush home and paint obsessively.
The 1953 exhibition at Salon de Mai was not his first time meeting the master of the 20th century: they were introduced at the end of the forties thanks to Picasso’s nephew, Jose Fin. In 1946, Mouly moved in with his British friend, Le Manceau, a professor in Paris with whom Jose Fin also stayed for a short while. It was during this period in time where Picasso’s nephew was made aware of Mouly’s admiration for his famous relative. Fin invited Mouly to his uncle’s home at rue de Grands Augustins where the emerging French artist witnessed Picasso working at his huge studio attic and gained important insight into the master’s “Kitchen” series.
In spite of the considerable impact Picasso, Matisse, and other masters of the 20th century had on Mouly, he was still able to develop his own unique style. Modele Blue (figure 1) suggests an influence of Picasso’s Blue period, while Atelier Ensoleille (figure 2) indicates the elongated figures of Picasso’s “Saltimbanques” series. Regardless of these similarities, Mouly was able to depart from the style of major artists of his time. His departure is exemplified by his intense brushwork, vivid color palette, and by his askew picture plane. The balance Mouly struck with his artistic style–familiar, yet distinct, is what truly sets his works apart from those by the rest of the modern artists of his time.
Figure 1. Figure 2.
‘Modele Bleu’ (The Blue Model) c. 2005 ‘Atelier Ensoleille’ (Sunlit Studio) c. 1984
Original acrylic on canvas Original Oil on Canvas
Mouly has been a recipient of major honors and awards as well as a subject to a number of books written about his life and art. His works are highly collectible and have been exhibited worldwide among them, Paris’ Biblioteque Nacionale, the Museums of Modern Art in Paris, Japan, Helsinki and Geneva. Marcel Mouly passed away a month shy of his 90th birthday on January 7, 2008 (he was born on February 6, 1918).
Join us for the opening ceremony of the Marcel Mouly: Light and Color Exhibition this Friday evening, May 5th from 6-8 pm in the gallery showroom to view the impressive and massive collection of original works from Marcel Mouly. Tickets are a $10 minimum donation per person and ticket sales will benefit the Florida Hospital for Children. Visit us here for more information and to purchase your tickets!