1894 - 1962
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Emmanuel Katz – known as Mané-Katz, whose father had a job in a synagogue, was originally intended for training as a rabbi. After a brief time at the schools of fine arts in Mirgorod and Kiev, he arrived in Paris in 1913, where he enrolled in the studio of Fernand Cormon at the École des Beaux-Arts. He struck up friendships with Chaïm Soutine and Marc Chagall. After World War I broke out, he returned to Russia and worked in the entourage of the company of Russian ballets. During the Russian Revolution, he was employed as a teacher in his home town.
In 1921, Mané-Katz moved permanently to Paris where, in the former studios of William Bouguereau and then of Othon Friesz, he lived amongst a notable group of producers of popular Jewish art, reflecting his own ethnic consciousness.
In 1929, he travelled to Palestine in pursuit of his vision of the lives and the spirituality of the Jewish people. During War World II, he was able to reach the USA, where he met Kisling. He returned to Paris after France’s liberation from the German Occupation and worked feverishly to make up for lost time. He later returned to Israel, where he died.
Mané-Katz spent his childhood in the shelter of the synagogue, and the Jewish religion remained a deep influence, inspiring both his style and the subject-matter of his compositions. During his early years in Paris as a pupil at the École des Beaux-Arts, he discovered Rembrandt, who never ceased to haunt him spiritually; from a technical point of view, however, he would continue to look to Gauguin, Cézanne, and the Fauvists. He built up a palette of warm and gilded hues that, in the opposite way to Soutine, conferred a celebratory character on his sinuous, tormented drawings, which however link him to the Jewish Expressionism of Central Europe. With a constantly renewed sense of joy, he painted rabbis, the interiors of synagogues, Jewish weddings, Jewish musicians, landscapes, still-lifes and flowers. He also illustrated traditional Jewish scenes ( Wailing Wall, 1938); scenes from the Old Testament ( Sacrifice of Abraham, 1944); and the recent history of the Jewish people ( Resistance of the Ghetto, 1946).
Mané-Katz exhibited in the main annual Paris salons from 1921. His work was included in several collective exhibitions, such as Russian Paris 1910-1960, a showcase for Russian art and artists in Paris organised by the Russian museum in St Petersburg, which was also seen at the Von der Heydt Museum in Wuppertal and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Bordeaux. He showed collections of his paintings in solo exhibitions, amongst others at Tel-Aviv museum in 1948. Several retrospective exhibitions were devoted to him, including: 1969, Geneva; and 1992, Galerie Katia Granoff, Paris. In 1951 he was decorated with the Légion d’Honneur.
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Haifa (Mané-Katz Mus.): an important collection
Montreal (MCA): Still-life (c. 1957)
Paris (MNAM-CCI): Ecstasy (1947)