10 February 2008

Sacha Zaliouk (1887-1971)

Still taken from Montparnasse, poème du café-crème, a 1929 short film by avant-gardist filmmaker Eugène Deslaw.

Alexander Davidovich Zaliouk, or Sacha Zaliouk, was born in 1887 in the small Jewish village of Radomyshl in Ukraine. From 1904 to 1910 he studied painting in Petrograd and at the Odessa School of Arts. After his studies he collaborated on a number of publications: the Odessa magazine Crocodile (1911-1912), South Week (1912-1913) and the South Thought newspaper (from 1911). Zaliouk also made drawings and illustrations for Odessa Stage Revue (1912). At the time he signed his work with "Sasha", "Sash" or "A.Z.". From 1908 to 1912 he took part in the exhibitions of the Society of South Russian Artists (Obshchestvo iuzhnorusskikh khudozhnikov) .
Round 1912 Sacha Zaliouk emigrated to Paris where he completed his art studies at the Paris École des Beaux-Arts. It is also believed, according to Odessa newspapers of the mid-1910s, that Zaliouk enlisted as a volunteer of the French Army and fought at Verdun. He lived and became known in the Paris area of Montparnasse, renowned for its artistic environment. Among his acquaintances we find fellow artist Leonard Foujita and his tutors Raphael Collin and François Flameng. His break-through came in 1919 when he exhibited his portraits of literary figures, artists and celebrities. The French newspapers at the time dubbed him le plus Montparno des Montparno. He also made a number of sculptures.

Below is another still from Montparnasse, poème du café-crème by Eugène Deslaw, this time showing a detail of Zaliouk's studio.

In the 1920s he made a name for himself as a gifted illustrator, cartoonist and portrait painter. He worked for satirical French magazines such as Fantasio, Sourire, Le Journal Amusant, La Parisienne and the more scabrous Paris-plaisirs. For the latter he illustrated Philantropie, a story by Georges Simenon (Paris-plaisirs, n°85 (90?), July 1929).

My apologies for the poor quality of the image above. I shall publish a better one as soon as I find a copy of the magazine. Below you'll find an illustration he did for the May 1925 issue of Fantasio. The satirical text translates as "Kiki, model for cubist painters. Or the woman who is about to be cut into pieces." 

A few more examples of his illustration work can be found at artnet. On June 28th 2005 an auction house in Brittany, France, sold off a large part of his remaining works, among which many originals of known illustrations.

At this auction I acquired a few samples of his work myself, among which some very interesting sketches he made. Sketches are seldomly shown glimpses into the kitchen of an artist. Here is one example.

And, finally, two more finished works. The first one is a detail of a portrait of a man. The original measures 32 x 40 cm. It was sold in a frame made by the artist and is executed in pastel. Unfortunately, I have not been able to identify the sitter yet.

The second work is a watercolour and pastel of a nude sitting man.
The size of the original is 26 x 18 cm.

I shall expand on this post whenever I find more information on Sacha Zaliouk. The main source for the current information was the catalogue of the June 28th 2005 sale Atelier Sacha Zaliouk (1887-1971) at Bretagne Enchères. Please note that my own contributions, notably the images showing the url of this diary, are not to be reproduced for commercial purposes.

Here is the Wikipedia entry on Zaliouk