Zygmunt Menkes (1896 – 1986)

Zygmunt Menkes. The painter’s palette

Lot 26. Zygmunt MENKES (Lviv 1896 – New York 1986). The painter’s palette. Oil on canvas, 92 x 74 cm. Signed in the middle right “Menkes”. On the back, on the stretcher, handwritten indications in white chalk “Pechon Av. Foch”. Estimate 15,000 – 20,000 euro. Millon. 11/10/20

Aż trzy oleje Menkesa z lat 20-tych XX wieku u Millona, wszystkie bardzo ciemne, w brązach. Jeden z nich, Portret rodzinny jest sprzedawany jako (chyba) najdroższy do tej pory obraz tego artysty. Bardzo silna promocja tej pracy, choć zdecydowanie ciekawsza dla mnie jest Paleta artysty, również droga, choć nie znaczona tak silnym pierwiastkiem żydowskim jak te pozostałe. Menkes jest dla mnie mistrzem współczenej martwej natury.

Zygmunt Menkes. The family

Lot 25. Zygmunt MENKES (Lviv 1896- New York 1986). The family. Painted in 1928. Oil on canvas, 130 x 97 cm. Signed lower left “Menkes”
Provenance: Former Niko Mazaraki collection, Private collection, Paris.
Exhibition: L’art Polonais Moderne, 19 October – 8 November, Galerie Bonaparte, Paris, 1929, reproduced p.59.

Bibliography: E. TERIADE, Menkes, Edition le Triangle, 1932, reproduced. Avram Kampf, Jewish experience in the Art of the twentieth century, 1984, reproduced p.185.
Zygmunt Menkes, born in Lwow (Poland) in 1896, spent his childhood in an environment that he himself defines as sad. He escapes through imagination by drawing. In 1914 he began studying at the Art Institute in his native town. In 1919, he enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow and left for Berlin three years later. He understood that he had to go to Paris and finally arrived there in 1923. After a year, without resources, he is forced to return to Poland. He returned to Paris the same year with the firm intention of staying there. He appeared at the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Indépendants from 1924 to 1927. He exhibited from 1926 until 1951 at the Salon des Tuileries. Menkes became one of the most original and important painters of the Ecole de Paris.  In 1935, he moved to New York where he participated in numerous exhibitions, gained public recognition and received awards. He exhibited in Paris, Warsaw, Lviv, Berlin, New York, Tel Aviv, Toronto. His works are in the collections of the following New York museums: Museum of Art; Jewish Museum; Metropolitan Museum of Art; Whitney Museum of American Art, the Jerusalem Museum of Art, the National Museum of Warsaw, the Museum of Modern Art in Lodz and the Centre Pompidou.
E. Tériade, the famous art critic, whose real name was Eleftheriadis, born in Lesbos, Greece, noticed the artist during one of his exhibitions in Paris. Tériade introduces the painter to a Greek millionaire, dealer and collector: Nico Mazaraki. The latter becomes his agent; he allocates him a fixed monthly sum and selects for himself a number of works by Menkes. The work presented here comes from the Nico Mazaraki collection.
The artist portrays himself here at the centre of the composition surrounding a group of four young Talmudists. Throughout his life, the artist has been passionate about self-portraiture; he portrays himself alone, accompanied, as a musician, with his palette, inventing situations, playing with his moods and the viewer. The painter offers a world of softness and gaiety lulled by lyricism. A variant of this painting measuring (65×54 cm) is kept in the Philadelphia Museum (donated by Bernard Davis in 1950). Estimate 50,000 – 60,000 euro. Millon. 11/10/20

Zygmunt Menkes. Tora, father and son

Lot 30. Zygmunt MENKES (Lviv 1896 – New York 1986). Tora, father and son. Circa 1927. Oil on canvas, 46 x 38 cm. Signed in the middle left “Menkes”. Estimate 6,000 – 8,000 euro. Millon. 11/10/20

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