Americans in France
Americans in France #2
CALDER, Alexander (1898-1976)
Sculptor, born in Philadelphia, PA
Alexander Calder studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière (6th) upon his arrival in France in 1926. He recorded "I went to the Grande-Chaumière to draw. Here there were no teachers, just a nude model, and everyone was drawing by himself". Calder had just spent three years at the Art Students League in New York City. He preferred Rue de la Grande-Chaumière where he found the atmosphere more subdued.
Alexander Calder took a four by five meters room in a hotel rue Daguerre in winter 1926. It was during this winter that Calder did one of the first models in wire, Josephine Baker. Alexander Calder worked in a ground-floor studio on rue Cels (14th), in 1927. It was here that Calder created his miniature circus. Spectators, who sat on Calder's bed included Jean Cocteau, Fernand Léger and Joan Miro. His circus was soon known throughout Paris, but almost no one recognized the full promise of Calder's figures and delicately balanced models. In 1928, Calder visited Mondrian's studio and began his own abstract painting. To the suggestion made later that this art was truly American, Calder replied : "I got the impulse for doing things my way in Paris". Today Calder's circus is on permanent display in the Whitney Museum in New York City. In 1929, Alexander and his wife took a studio at Villa Brune (14th) at number 7. The building consisted of eight studios which could be reached by going through the back door and continuing for twenty yards into a garden surrounded by ateliers. Calder, who was forever creating gadgets, gave a circus show of his animals, which helped pay the rent. He recalled, "I had rigged up doors with a string and I could even open my front door from the bathtub without moving a hand".
In 1931, Calder and his wife took the top-floor apartment in a three-story house on rue de la Colonie (13th). Calder began to make "a number of things that went round and round" and his friend Marcel Duchamp suggested that they be called mobiles (something that moves). He spent the rest of his life between Paris and New York.
CASSATT, Mary (1844-1926)
Painter, born in Allegheny City, PA
In 1851, Mary Cassatt came with her family to Paris, and during their five-year residence became acquainted with the great art in the museums of Europe. After the family’s return to the United States, she studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1861 to 1865. She convinced her father that she should go abroad, and for most of the years 1866 to 1873, she traveled and studied in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium, finaly settling in Paris in 1874. In 1877 she made the acquaintance of Degas, whose art and ideas had a considerable influence on her own work, and who introduced her to the Impressionists. She was a supporter to the movement, both by providing direct financial help and by promoting the works of the Impressionists in the United States. After 1914 she was no longer able to paint due to failing eyesight. She died in 1926 at her beloved country house, Château de Beaufresne, near Paris.
CLARKE, Kenny (1914-1985)
Jazz musician, born in Pittsburgh, PA
Clarke was already an acclaimed drummer who had recorded with all the jazz giants of his time when he relocated to Paris in 1956. He claimed he had first dreamed of living in Paris when he was twelve. In 1957, he composed the film score for Louis Malle’s Ascenseur Pour l’Echafaud with Miles Davis. Between 1958 and 1966, he appeared regularly at the Blue Note, 27, rue d'Artois (8th) with fellow American expatriate Bud Powell and distinguished visiting musicians such as Dexter Gordon, Lester Young, Bill Coleman, Stan Getz or Chet Baker. In 1967, he founded the Kenny Clarke Drum School in Paris. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s he continued to live and work in Europe. He died in Montreuil-sous-Bois near Paris on January 26, 1985 and is buried at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery.
COOPER, James Fenimore (1789-1851)
Writer, born in Burlington, NJ
Already a successful novelist in his own country, Cooper moved to France with his wife and five children in 1826. In his correspondence, he spoke of returning to America after one year, but he soon began to feel at home in France, and spent the next seven years in Europe, mainly in Paris, where he maintained close friendships with the Marquis de Lafayette and other liberal leaders. From July 1826, they lived at 12, rue de l’Abbé-Grégoire (6th), in a 17th century convent. In September 1830, they moved to 22, rue d’Aguesseau (8th), then in December 1830, to 13, rue Saint-Florentin (8th), and, in April 1831, to 59, rue Saint-Dominique (7th). While in Paris he wrote three historical novels set in medieval Europe, as well as books about democracy, politics and society. He returned to the United States in 1833. In 1838, he discribed his stay in Paris in A Residence in France.