Gen Paul – Last Great Painter of Montmartre

Gen Paul

The Last Great Painter of Montmartre

Eugène Paul (known as Gen Paul) was born July 2, 1895, on rue Lepic, the same street of Montmartre where Van Gogh had stayed with his brother Théo. The French painter spent most of his life in Montmartre, where the Impressionist revolution, Fauvism and Cubism began.

The Moulin de la Galette, Place Pigalle and Place du Tertre were everyday sights for Gen Paul. The Bateau-Lavoir was well established as the meeting place of independent painters and writers of the early 1900s. Picasso, Braque, Metzinger, Juan Gris, along with Van Dongen, Matisse, Derain, and Dufy, were among the distinguished company that gathered there, Gen Paul was no stranger to it as a young artist looking for inspiration.

Gen Paul never received any formal or academic art training, his art was influenced by his direct exposure to the innovators of Montmartre. His work was an amalgamation of the spatial breakdown of Cubism with the line and flow of the Fauvist painters, especially Raoul Dufy’s. Structurally, Gen Paul’s Cubism was less severe, less firmly organized and less sharp-edged than that of the originators of the movement. Joyous spontaneity, warm high-keyed color and fluidity differentiated Gen Paul’s application of Cubist principles to his compositions. 

From the beginning, Gen Paul’s focus was to create art. He made painting his way of life and made no effort to build a career in any specific field. Lacking an academic or professional nucleus, his was a difficult start. He began selling his work on café terraces in Montmartre for ten years, finally earning a chance to have a gallery exhibition at Bing’s in 1926. Representation by Galerie Bernheim followed along with exhibitions at Galerie Drouant-David. By the early 1950s Gen Paul was well established and had gone from a street painter to being part of the heart of Parisian art. Wally Findlay Galleries began representing the work of Gen Paul in those years and has continued to do so ever since. 

Though he was original and vigorous both as a draftsman and a colorist, Gen Paul was never a standard bearer for any new art movement. At no point was he a theoretical crusader trying to further any one style of painting. He always loved the act of painting and pursued his own work with vigorous freshness. Consequently, his paintings are spontaneous and full of verve; they are works to be savored with great pleasure.

Gen Paul died in his beloved Paris on April 30, 1975 and was buried in the Cimetière Saint-Vincent in Montmartre. A few months after Eugène Paul’s death, Jean-Paul Crespelle, the famous historian and specialist in the artistic and nocturnal life of Montmartre and Montparnasse, wrote that Gen Paul “was the last of the great painters of Montmartre.” His works can be found in important public and private collections in France, America and Asia. Findlay Galleries is proud to present this beautiful collection of paintings by the Last Master of Montmartre.

James MuldoonGen Paul – Last Great Painter of Montmartre