Pre-World War II School of Paris


"What was done in Paris demonstrated clearly and for all time that such a thing as international culture could exist. Moreover, that this culture had a definite style: the Modern." —Harold Rosenberg

Paris before World War II—"the laboratory of the twentieth century," as Rosenberg called it—was home to some of the world's leading artists of the day. It witnessed the rapid succession of movements and formal innovations that have come to define modern art, from Cubism and Dada to Surrealism and the return to Classicism. The term "École de Paris" (School of Paris) was originally associated with the foreign-born artists, mainly of Jewish heritage, living in Paris between the two world wars—foremost among them Amedeo Modigliani, Marc Chagall, and Chaim Soutine, also referred to as "Poetic Expressionists"—but later came to encompass nearly all progressive art produced in Paris, particularly by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse; it has also been used to describe the Post-WW II scene in Paris. A robust gallery landscape, avid arts criticism, and the vibrant social life centered around Montmartre and Montparnasse cemented the city's status as an international center of innovation.

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