Emile Salkin

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Emile Salkin has been described as the most over-looked artist in the post-war Belgian art world working principally in oils but also producing dry point etchings and engravings.


He was born in Saint-Gilles in the Brabant region, in 1900 and initially studied at the studio of the Antwerp painter and sculptor Ferdinand Schirren before going to Paris in 1921 to hone his technique under Bernard Naudin and C Rossi.


His initial style, from 1928 to 1945, was figurative, using a Fauvist palette and he became drawn to Surrealism. His first recognition as an artist came when he was commissioned to paint large frescoes for L’Exposition Universelle in Brussels in 1935. In fact during his life he undertook several frescoes including La Chapelle d’Estaimbourg in 1954, the Ministry of Public Works in Ixelles in 1964 and then, with Paul Delvaux, the Kursaal in Ostend and La Maison Gilbert Périer in Brussels.


A little later he turned to depicting Spanish scenes with bulls, bull-fighting and female singers and dancers. This was followed by a period of painting (1956 – 1960) townscapes with streets full of cars where the pedestrian is subordinate to the movement of traffic. “Les Circulations”, produced in the period between 1957 to 1958,with its masterly design, power, deep coloration and direct style, was arguably the first manifestation of Pop Art in Europe. On the basis of this, Salkin was chosen to represent Belgian Contemporary Art at Expo in Brussels in 1958.


With his friend the painter Paul Delvaux, he was very active in the world of Le Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and exhibited six times there.


Salkin then made another stylistic change which saw the blossoming of his talent and this was as a result of setting up a studio in Cotignac in the Var, the Midi region in France, this time experimenting in lyrical abstraction and expressionism, based on the theme of eagles. This lasted until 1966 when his friend Marcel Broodthaers, a painter, photographer, critic and poet, convinced Salkin that he should return to Pop Art and so he went back to figurative painting: nudes, dancers, prostitutes and works featuring lorries and trains. These works epitomised the 1960’s.


The 1970’s saw his final trend, which was an evolution towards stylised geometric which was at the limit of abstraction.


Emile Salkin was made Professor and Director of L’École de Dessin et d’Arts Décoratifs d’Anderlecht, Professor at L’Académie de Tournai, L’Académie de La Cambre and at L’Académie de Namur from 1941 to 1965. On his retirement, he returned to Cotignac where he died in 1977.


His work can be seen in the museums in Brussels, Liège and Tournai. A major retrospective of his work was held at La Musée d’Art Moderne d’Ostende in 2002.


Bibliography:

Arto Dictionnaire Biographique Arts Plastiques en Belgique

Dictionnaire des Artistes Plasticiens de Belgique des XIXe et

XXe Siecles - Paul Piron

Dictionnaire des Peintres – E Benezit

 




 

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EMILE SALKIN (1900-1977)
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Combat d’Amazones Emile Salkin has been described as the most over-looked artist in the post-war Belgian art world working principally in oils...
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