Eugene Paul, known as Gen Paul, was born in 1895 and raised in the bohemian
atmosphere of Montmartre. In his life he came to know a great many of
the artists, from the anonymous to the world famous, who established
themselves in the neighborhood. A self-taught artist, Gen Paul began
expressing himself in drawings and paintings as a child, his earliest
works show a remarkable talent. He was apprenticed to a wallpaper hanger.
until his life was interrupted by war. He was wounded twice in World
War One, the second time he lost one of his legs. During his recovery
he turned to painting, which became his passion and his livelihood for
almost 60 years.
Gen Paul exhibited at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants
beginning in 1920. In 1928 Gen Paul exhibited fifty paintings at Galerie
Bing with Picasso, Rouault, and Soutine. He participated in collective
exhibitions in London and Anvers. In 1937 he painted a large fresco
for the Pavillon de Vins de France at l’Exposition Internationale
de Paris. A restrospective was held at Galerie Drouant-David in 1952
and his works were shown several times at Galerie Ferrero in Geneva,
From the late teens until about 1930 Gen Paul produced a large number
of exceptionally strong, vibrant expressionist paintings. His work from
this period is particularly interesting when compared that of Chaim
Soutine. While their techniques are clearly similar, Soutine’s
paintings seem dark, pessimistic, and distorted (by no means a flaw),
while Gen Paul’s are filled with a vital, positive energy and
emotionalism. The work of Willem de Kooning also has many similarities
to that of Gen Paul, though Gen Paul came 30 years before de Kooning
and the other “action painters” of the 1950’s.
Gen Paul began the 1930s with a serious illness, as he recovered his
paintings changed, he became more interested expressing rhythm in is
work and began employing calligraphic forms in his work. After World
War Two Gen Paul returned to the motifs of his earlier period, which
he reproduced in great quantities.
Gen Paul traveled extensively, including visits to the United States.
He painted subjects he knew and loved, jazz and classical musicians,
portraits, sports, and many scenes of Montmartre and other familiar
Gen Paul worked without promoters, agents, or regular gallery representation.
He painted into the 1960’s. When he died there were no paintings
left in his estate, everything had already been sold. Perhaps because
of his disdain for the art establishment, Gen Paul’s work has
never approached the price levels of many of his famous peers.
Many of Gen Paul’s greatest works from the 1920s have remained
in private collections. A Catalog Raisonné of Gen Paul’s
paintings which were completed before 1930 is in preparation.
Retrospective exhibitions of Gen Paul’s work were held at the
Musée de Montmartre in 1986, for the hundred-year anniversary
of his birth in 1995 at Museum Les Cordeliers, and in 1998 in Zurich,
Switzerland. He is represented in museums in Berne, and Geneva, Switzerland,
and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.