Gen-Paul was born in the Rue Lepic, at the heart of Montmartre. His mother was an embroiderer, and his father was a café musician. Gen-Paul began painting from a young age. An apprentice interior decorative artist, he looked about him in the wealthy apartments where his work took him and observed the pieces collected by art lovers, and he learned anatomy by getting to know surgeons and going with them into operating theatres. He also attended the École des Beaux-Arts. He painted on discarded cigar boxes using coloured supplements from L'Illustration as models. This was in 1913. At the outbreak of World War I he volunteered for service and was wounded; a year later a second wound led to the amputation of his right leg. Back in Paris in 1916, he began to paint. His first oil painting, the Moulin de la Galette seen from his window, dates from 1916. His early works are not easy to identify, as he painted many views of Paris to satisfy customers who wanted a painting 'in the style of so-and-so'. In 1918 he first signed a canvas Gen-Paul. In 1920 he showed work at the Salon d'Automne, remaining faithful to this institution and to the Salon des Indépendants. His first solo show took place in the Galerie Bing in 1926. He illustrated several of Céline's books, including Journey to the End of Night, Death on Tick ( Voyage au bout de la nuit, Mort à crédit) in 1942. He also produced engravings, some of which were published as a collection entitled Views of Montmartre ( Les vues de Montmartre). When World War II ended he travelled frequently to the USA and New York. In 1952 the Galerie Drouant-David in Paris put on a retrospective dedicated to him. Gen-Paul did not exhibit much, had no dealer, and travelled frequently in France and Spain. Posthumous collective exhibitions include: Galerie Roussard, Paris (1999); Marcel Aymé and the Painters ( Marcel Aymé & les peintres) exhibition, Galerie Roussard, Paris (2002).
Museum and Gallery Holdings
Geneva (Petit Palais)