“There is never any ending to Paris and the memory of each person who has lived in it differs from that of another. Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.” Ernest Hemingway, “A Moveable Feast”, 1960.
After the Liberation of Paris in 1944 many veterans of the US forces who had helped liberate France returned to Paris on the G.I. Education Bill to attend university and the various art academies particularly those of the Modern Masters Fernand Leger and André Lhote. Drawn to the fabled city of Gertrude Stein, Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway, young aspiring American artists such as Sam Francis, Elsworth Kelly, John Levée, and Bill Parker, lived bohemian lifestyles on a US government allowance of seventy-five dollars a month. Together they experienced tremendous camaraderie amidst the prevalent intellectual, artistic and political turmoil. In the 1950’s they found themselves in a unique cultural context during a transitional period as the tide of artistic focus shifted from Europe to America. Levée established himself amongst the leading Abstract Expressionists, to which four superb works in this exhibition bear testimony.
During the 1960’s a second generation of American artists such as James Brown and Judith Wolfe arrived in Paris many on bursaries to study at the Cité Internationale des Arts or the École Nationale des Beaux Arts. James Brown would go on to become a leading member of the Frontier Art group in New York in the 1980’s with Basquiat and Haring, from which two major works are included in this exhibition.
The American Cultural Center established by Darthea Speyer became the primary exhibition venue for the young artists. Whilst the galleries of Rodolphe Stadler and Jean Fournier were also responsible for launching the careers of many American ex-pats during this period.
This exhibition highlights the work of several of the American artists who chose to live and work in Paris since 1945 including: Kosta Alex, James Brown, John Levee, Bill Parker.