Pascin, Jules

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PASCIN, JULES (1885–1930), painter. Pascin was born in Viddin, Bulgaria, the son of a Sephardi grain merchant, Marcus Pincus. In 1891 the family settled in Bucharest. After leaving high school, Pascin traveled, taking courses at several art academies. On his return, his clever drawings earned him a contract with the Munich satirical weekly Simplicissimus. He changed his name to Pascin. In 1905 he went to Paris and there became a celebrated figure on the Left Bank. During World War i he left for the United States and became a U.S. citizen. In 1920 he returned to Paris and, in spite of a life of dissipation, produced about 500 oils as well as drawings, prints, colors, and a few small sculptures. Suffering from incurable cirrhosis of the liver, he committed suicide by hanging himself in his studio, leaving bizarre instructions for a Jewish funeral.

His acute draftsmanship can be seen in his Simplicissimus cartoons and in his humorous and often savage illustrations of books, among them an edition of Heinrich Heine's Die Memoiren des Herrn von Schnabelewopski. This draftsmanship was the basis of all his compositions and some critics claimed that his oils were only "drawings heightened by paint." His paintings have a quasi-surrealist quality. Pascin also made prints using a sharp needle directly on copper (similar to drawing) for preserving impressions of travel, suburban scenes, and café life. Though most of his work depicts women singly or in groups, he was also a keen observer of many milieus and he drew or painted children at play, circus artists, and nightclub scenes. He was fascinated by figures from folklore and the Bible including the Prodigal Son, Salome, and Bathsheba.


A. Werner, Pascin (Eng., 1962); G. Diehl, Pascin (Fr., 1968).

[Alfred Werner]