Menkes, Zygmunt (Poland) -" Flowers in a Vase" Oil on canvas
Artist: Sigmund Joseph Menkes ((Poland 1896–1986) Aliases: Sigmund Menkes, Zygmunt Menkes, Zygmunt Ménkes
Work and size: "Flowers in a Vase" oil on canvas, 30 X 24 in (76.2 x 61 cm), signed lower right
Artist bio: Zygmunt Menkes was born in 1912 in the town of Lvov, Poland. He attended the school of the decorative arts there at the young age of 16. He then went on to study at the Fine Arts Academy in Cracow, before moving to Berlin.
He moved again to Paris shortly thereafter, where he lived up until the outbreak of World War II. Much of the work from this period during the 1920s and 1930s was done throughout the French country side, including a few trips to his native Poland.
In Paris he joined the artist collective, the Ècole de Paris. He befriended several other prominent artists in Paris art scene including Eugeniusz Zak and Marc Chagall.
He left Europe for the United States in 1939, where he lived for the rest of his life. His journey to America was aided by the assistance of a few art dealers who were familiar with his work in Paris. His first exhibition in New York had been in 1936 at the Sullivan gallery on 57th street.
Menkes work often focused on scenes of varying Jewish religious practices and traditions. This subject matter took a darker turn during WWII, depicting Jews in the Polish ghettos during the Nazi occupation. Stylistically his work is notable for its expressiveness and restricted tones in brown, yellow, red and green. His signature was often prominently placed in his work in a bold red, given equal importance as a part of the composition.
The artist’s work is included in many prominent institutions around the world including the now closed Museum of the Jeu de Paume in Paris; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum in Manhattan; the Wichita (Kan.) Museum; the Newark Museum; the Corcoran Museum in Washington; the Cranbrook Academy in Detroit; the Jewish Museum in Manhattan; the Betsalel Museum in Jerusalem, and the Tel Aviv Museum.
Studied: Higher Inst. Art Decorative, Lwow, Poland, 1914; Acad. Fine Art, Kracow, Poland, 1919.
Corcoran Gal. biennials, 1939-57 (8 times, incl. 4th prize, 1941; gold med., 1947); PAFA Ann., 1941-66 (gold medal, 1945); CI; Univ. Nebraska; CMA; Am. Univ., Wash., DC; State Univ. Iowa.; Cranbrook Acad. Art; MMA; WMAA; Cornelius Sullivan Gal., NY (solo); Durand-Ruel Gal. (solo); Assn. Am. Artists, 1936-44 (solo); AIC, 1937-43; NIAL, 1955 (award); Audubon Artists, 1965 (medal of hon.), 1967 (silver med.); Polish Inst. Arts & Sciences, 1968 (prize).
Int. Inst. Arts & Letters (life fellow); Woodstock AA; Fed. Mod. P&S (pres., 1942-43); ANA; Société des Indep.; Salon d’Automne; Soc. du Salon des Tuilleries; (all in Paris).
Public CollectionsMMA; Wichita AA; Cranbrook Acad. Art; Encyclopedia Britannica Coll.; PAFA; Abbott Laboratories Coll.; MusÈe de Jeu de Paume, Paris; Nat. Mus. Warsaw, Poland; Nat. Mus., Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Nat. Mus., Athens, Greece; Tel-Aviv, Palestine; Albright Gal., Buffalo; Woodstock AA