Marc Chagall: Art in War PDF Print E-mail

Paris Art Studies – Art in War, French art 1938- 1947



January – International Exhibition of Surrealism at the Galerie des Beaux Arts, Paris.

March – Thousands of Spanish Republicans flee into France escaping advance of troops of General Franco. Proclamation of Anschluss (union with Austria) in Germany.

April – Popular Front premier Léon Blum resigns and is replaced by Edouard Daladier.

May –Yves Tanguy exhibition, Galerie Jeanne Bucher-Myrbor, Paris.

June – “Spanish artists in exile” at the galerie d’Anjou, Paris. Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (most famous German Expressionist) commits suicide in exile in Switzerland.

October – Chamber of deputies ratifies the Munich pact with Hitler. Germany annexes the Czech Sudetenland.

November – “Modern Sacred Art” at the Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris. André Michaux exhibition at the galerie Pierre (Loeb), Paris. “Free German Art” at the Maison de la Culture, Paris. Kristallnacht: Jewish pogrom and destruction of Jewish properties and synagogues in Germany.


January – Opening of first internment  camp, Rieucros,  for Spanish Republican refugees near the Pyrenees.

March – 3825 confiscated modern artworks on paper left over from 1937  “Degenerate Art” exhibition burned in Berlin. Germans occupy Czechoslovakia.

May – Victor Brauner exhibition, Galerie Henriette, Paris. Opening of new Museum of Modern Art in New York.

July – Wilfredo Lam exhibition at the galerie Pierre (Loeb), Paris. 

August – Signature of German- Soviet pact.

September – German invasion of Poland. France and Great Britain declare war on Germany. German artists living in France (Wols, Bellmer, Springer, Ernst) arrested and interned at the Milles concentration camp. Beginning of the evacuation of national artistic treasures from Paris to the southwest.

October – Chamber of deputies ratifies the Munich pact with Hitler. Germany annexes the Czech Sudetenland.

November – Major Picasso exhibition (“Picasso 40 years of his art”) at MoMA, New York.


May – Max Ernst escapes twice from internment camp. Charlotte Salomon, Hannah Arendt interned at Gurs camp. German army  invades France.

June – General Keitel general in chief of German army in occupied France orders the sequestration of French national artworks and those from Jewish collections.

June – Germans occupy Paris. Hitler flies in for the day. Marshall Philippe Pétain become head of the French state. From London general Charles de Gaulle calls for the French to resist on BBC radio broadcast. New French government moves to Vichy.

July – Installation in France of the Einsatzab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) to confiscate Jewish and Freemason properties.

August – Picasso returs to paris from Royan and settles fro the rest of the Occupation in his studio at 7, rue des Grands Augustins.

The American journalist Varian Fry arrives in Marseille with a mandate to organize the emigration of threatened German and French cultural personalities and intellectuals to the USA. He rents the villa Bel Air to house his refugees. All cultural activities in France placed under the authority of the German Propaganda service (Propaganda Abteilung).

September – Discovery of the Lascaux caves. Suicide of Walter Benjamin on Spanish border.

October –  André Breton founder of Surrealist movement and his girlfriend Jacqueline Lamba move to the villa Bel Air.

First special statutes on Jews promulgated in France.

November – First exhibition of confiscated French artworks organized for Marshall Göring at the Jeu de Paume. Fernand Léger arrives in New York where he will stay for the next 5 years.

December –  Varian Fry and his refugees are temporarily arrested by police during Marshall Pétain’s visit to Marseille. Peggy Guggenheim hides her modern art collection at the museum in Grenoble until March 1941.


2 million art objects sold though the year at the Drouot auction house.

March – Fry’s refugees Breton , Lamba, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Wilfredo Lam leave Marseille for Martinique.

May – Marc Chagall authorized to emigrate to USA. Last Surrealist party at the villa Bel-Air. Max Ernst and Peggy Guggenheim leave for Lisbon. Exhibtion of “Young Painters of the French Tradition” at the galerie Braun, Paris includes Bazaine, Lapicque, Le Moal, Manessier, Pignon, Tal Coat.

June – Second Jewish statute for the census of Jews in the “zone libre” controlled by Vichy.

July – Jews lose the right to administrate any business including art galleries.

September – “Jews and the French” exhibition at the Palais Berlitz, Paris. Varian Fry is expelled from France, leaves for Lisbon.

October – Galerie Bernheim- Jeune (Jewish owners) is requisitioned for the exhibition art works by German soldiers. Galerie Berri- Raspail begins series of contemporary art exhibitions organized by Gaston Diehl. Death of Robert Delaunay.

November – Exhibition of works by German soldiers at the Jeu de Paume, “Kunst der Front”.






January – Exhibition in Lyon of “Contemporary French Drawing”: Gromaire, Lhote, Deranin, Kisling, dufy, Matisse, Picasso etc…

February – Inauguration of Galerie de France in Paris with exhibition of Charles Dufresne.

April – Georges Rouault exhibition at the galerie Louis Carré.

May – Picasso paints his most famous war picture, “L’Aubade”. Galerie Jeanne Bucher exhibits Lurçat, Klee, Laurens, Braque, Léger. Opening of exhibition of Hitler’s favorite sculptor Arno Breker at the Orangerie, Paris. An official delegation of conservative and academic French artists including Vlaminck, Derain, Despiau, Landowski  and Dunoyer de Segonzac visits Germany.

June – Maurice de Valminck viloently criticizes Picasso in main cultural magazine of Occupation , Comoedia.

July – First article on Jean Dubuffet in Comoedia. Mass arrests of Jews (more than 13 000) in Paris: “Rafle du vel d’hiv”. Many are deported to Drancy concentration camp in north suburbs.


Braque retrospective at the Salon d’Automne, Paris.

January – Death of Sophie Tauber-Arp in Switzerland.

February – Death of Charlotte Salomon in Auschwitz.

March  - Death of Otto Freundlich at Majdanek camp in Poland.

August – Death of Chaim Soutine during stomach operation in Paris after 3 years of hiding in the countryside.

November – Exhibition of 46 paintings by Jean Fautrier at René Drouin gallery.

December – Oscar Dominguez exhibition at galerie Louis Carré.


January – Exhibition of Kandinky, Domela and Nicolas de Staël at Jeanne Bucher gallery.

February – Arrest of Surrealist writer Robert Desnos and Jewish poet and friend of Picasso max Jacob.

Inauguration of Denise René gallery.

March – Max Jacob dies at Drancy concentration camp. Picasso’s play “Desired Caught by the Tail” performed at the home of writer Michel Leiris.

June – Ally D-day landings on Normandy beaches.

August – Liberation of Paris.

October – the Liberation “National Front of the Arts “ under the direction of Picasso demands the arrest of collaborationist artists though none are in the end carried out. Picasso joins the French Communist party. He exhibits 100 works at the first Salon d’Automne after the liberation of Paris. First sol Dubuffet show at the galerie René Drouin.

December – Death of Kandinsky in Neuilly.


January – Jean Cassou named director of museum of modern art.

February – Serge Poliakoff exhibition at the Galerie L’Esquisse. Bazaine, Estève and Lapicque at Louis Carré.

April – Joan Miro exhibition at galerie Vendôme. Nicolas de Staël at Jeanne Bucher.

May – Creation of national committee for the “purification” of the arts. End of war in Europe with capitulation of Germany.

June – “Picasso libre” exhibition at Louis Carré. Following Stalin’s directives against modern art French Communist party criticizes Picasso.

October-November – Fautrier’s “Hostages” exhibited at René Drouin gallery.


February – Exhibition of the work of the patients of the Ste Anne mental hospital in Paris , birth of “Art Brut”.

April – “For a Religious Art” exhibition at René Drouin gallery.

May – Dubuffet “Mirobolus Macadam et Cie” exhibition at René Drouin gallery. André Breton returns to Paris.

July – Death of Gertrude Stein in Paris.

October – Alexander Calder exhibition at René Drouin.


January – Atlan exhibition at galerie Maeght, Paris. Death of Pierre Bonnard.

April – Opening of Tabou nightclub rue Dauphine in Paris.

June – Vieira da Silva exhibition at Jeanne Bucher. Reopening of the National Museum of Modern art at Palais de Tokyo.

July – International exhibition of Surrealism at galerie Maeght. Antoning Artaud drawings at galerie Pierre. Abstract paintings at Denise René.



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