Alicja Halicka (1895 – 1975)

Aż dwadziescia dziewięć kubistycznych prac Alicji Halickiej pojawia się na aukcji we Francji. Ciekawe, że katalog jest mono-tematyczny – wyłącznie pace jednej autorki. Prace Halickiej z jej okresu kubistycznego są chyba najbardziej poszukiwane i najdroższe. Dlaczego? Bo są najrzadsze na rynku. Są najrzadsze na rynku bo jej mąż zabronił jej malować w tym stylu, bo część prac sama zniszczyła, bo może lepiej malowała od męża lub bardziej rozinęłaby talent gdyby nie mąż (Louis Marcoussis, znany nam w Polsce również jako Ludwik Kazimierz Wladyslaw Markus). Nie trzeba było słuchać męża. Późniejsze prace Halickiej są słodkie i nijakie, malowane dla grzecznych panienek.

Powyżej autoportret Alicji Halickiej namalowany w 1913 roku zaś poniżej notatka biograficzna jaką skopiowałem z tego katalogu.

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Lot 1. Alice Halicka (1895-1975). Cubist self-portrait. Oil on canvas signed and dated on the upper left corner, 1913. 18 5/16 x 15 1/8 in. 3 000 / 5 000 €. Exhibition. Vichy 1988, cat. 2. Reproduced in Cahier de l’Histoire de l’Art n°3 of the year 2005 fig.2.

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Alice Halicka (1894-1975). From auction catalog of Lombrail, Teucquam. May 28th, 2014.

Every work of art in the auction was executed between 1914 and 1920 by AliceHalicka : her major works are featured here. The artists arrives in Paris in 1912, while the cubist style takes place.

Alice Halicka was born in 1894 at Varsovie in a universitary, jewish family. She arrives in Paris in 1912 after drawing studies in Munich with Hungarian painter Holosky also teacher at the Academy. In Paris, she studies with Maurice Denis and Sérusier at the Ranson Académy and also copies master pieces at the Louvre Museum. On an evening in 1912, at Bobino, she has a decisive encounter. Drawer Zyg Brunner introduces her to Louis Marcoussis, polish as Halicka is, arrived in Paris in 1903, erudite, painter converted to cubism since 1910. Alice Halicka marries Louis Marcoussis in 1913 and he introduces her to the artistic Parisian life. She meets Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Marie Laurencin, Breton, Max Jacob, Max Ernst, Paul Guillaume, Eluard, Apollinaire, Foujita, Orson Welles… And has open house on 61 Caulaincourt street. In her memoirs “Hier”, she relates Parisian life with humour in a refreshing style, especially when she describes her friends and environment. She also talks about the cafés in Montparnasse, La Rotonde, Le Dôme where painters and fashionable people would go. She knows how to give a sense of the times : “the young women who escorted the artists had been the first to cut their hair short, refuse to wear the corset and dress with bright colours, inspired by the works of their companions.”

Halicka portrays René Crevel, Jouhandeau, Francis Carco, Gide, Tristan Tzara…. She appraoches Cubism in 1913. At Cormon’s, who she sais avoided her as if she had the plague, the other students thought she was mad : “I worked on Cubism, a cursed art according to them, an anti-greek art that referred to negro-art”. On August 3rd, 1914, Germany declares war to France. Louis Marcoussis, yet a stranger, enlists, and Alice Halicka seeks refuge at friends’ in Normandy to paint ruthlessly. World War One finally ends and Marcoussis comes home ; Halicka shows him her work. The painter pretexts that one Cubist is enough in a family and advises her against continuing to work in that direction. Halicka doesn’t want to compete her husband and changes her style. In her diary, she writes : “After the cubist period, that i abandonned by obliteration…”.

She destroys part of her work and forgets the rest. Racked by the war, forced to work, she seems talented in several domains and preserves her sensibility. She’s interested by all pictorial techniques. She illustrates Les Enfantines by Valérie Larbaud, Les Enfants du Ghetto by Zangwill. Beteween 1935 and 1938, she works with Strasvinsky and Balanchine, executes the advertising billboards for Helena Rubinstein… She finally returns to Paris and loses her husband in 1941. Even though she travels and produces a lot, life under german occupation is difficult. Halicka publishes her Memoirs in 1946. Later, she reencounters her past : “To my surprise, almost sixty years later, I received by mail a big roll from Normandy : sixty canvas, watercolors and gouaches on paper, drawings. My friends’ heirs had discovered it in the attic.” Halicka cleans her work of art, and fixes it on stretchers ; one of her canvas is successfully sold on a auction at the Palais Galliera in Paris. “The Motte Gallery in Bonaparte Street exposed my work ; thanks to it’s sale, I bought myself a beautiful furr coat.” A year before her death, her cubist work emerges from the shadows, is admired and reproduced in art books, then exposed in museums, bringing her success.

Halicka’s cubist work, spread in the entire world, rarely appears on the market. Gathering a large amount of her work, entirely realised between 1914 and 1920, thus seems exceptional.

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