dimanche 13 mars 2011

Tavik František Šimon, forgotten painter of the 20th century

Street animations, commercial activities, monuments and historical areas... The Paris of the 1910's, 20's and 30's remains in memory thanks to photography but mostly thanks to paint and illustration.

Place Maubert, Paris, 1914, réf. Novák 227.

After doing some research on the 36 views of the Eiffel Tower by Henri Rivière, I randomly discovered the painter Tavik Frantisek Šimon, unfairly unrecognized.

Carnival in Paris, 1909,
réf. Novák 102
He was born in 1877 in Bohème, and died in 1942 in Prague. He travelled the world a lot, and mainly Europe. From all of his journeys, he brought many lithographs, engravings, drawings and paintings.

Painter of the streets, he mostly immortalized those of Tanger, London, Paris, Amsterdam and Prague. His views are full of life : people walking by, craftsmen, figures of the area but also circulation. The smoke of the chimneys and means of locomotion are represented, witness of what life was like in the main cities at the beginning of the 1920's.

The search for book on Šimon

Quai Voltaire, Paris, 1919
réf. Novák 404

Discovering a work of Šimon, in our case the series of the 36 views of Notre Dame de Paris, makes you want to see much more.

Librairies and bookshops were combed to try to find any documentation on the artist.

I've tried to look for what could've been published on him in France, but found nothing.
Although I had the help of publishers of the RMN and librairians of the BNF (which I greatly thank for their kindness and the time they took for my demand).

Researchs with the librairies of Prague didn't bring us anything... There seems to be no documentation available on Šimon.

Commercial street, Kyoto, Japan, 1928
réf. Novák 479
Fortunately for us, a team of Dutch admirers made an amazing work  through their website, tfsimon.com. They collect and spread  information on the artist, complemented by amateurs worldwide.

The most important base of this painstaking work is a catalogue that Arthur Novák, a friend of Šimon's, made in 1937. His goal was to make an inventory of the artist's works, with technique, size and referencing.

Rue Royale in the rain, Paris, 1925, réf. Novák 429
I finally found a version upgraded and increased of the « Novák » at the Frederick Baker gallery, in the United States. This gallery published this catalogue during an exhibition dedicated to Šimon a few years ago.

In less than a week, I received the catalogue I ordered. I jumped for joy when I discovered that the publisher took care of taking Novák's references.
We can easily find on the artist's website all of the works presented in the catalogue.

I'm enjoying every page of it, wondering what the museums and event managers are waiting for to dedicate an exhibition to the unrecognized painter. Why not make a group exhibition, taking back the work of many artists of that time in Paris, or even in Europe?

I revive Catharine Bentick's invitation for the attention of the « Czech-speaking » people tempted by the idea : to write the most exhaustive biography possible and thus allow to as many persons as possible to discover the life and works of this exceptional painter.

Indian Girls, Ceylon, 1931, réf. Novák 53

Charles Bridge in Winter, Prague, 1916, réf. Novák 255
Tangier Nocturne, 1914, réf. Novák 226

Many thanks to :
  • The publishers of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux
  • The librairians of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France
(Both of them spent a lot of time making researchs, anf their e-mail were always very complete and helpful)
  • Alice, my investigator in Czech Republic

Thank you very much for your help!

- Madame -

The Graphic Work of T. F. Šimon
by Scot A.Campbell
Ed. Frederick Baker 2002

Translated by Mademoiselle

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