Joseph Sima

Joseph Sima was born on March 19, 1891, in East Bohemia. After studying painting in Prague, he moved to France, his adoptive country, in 1921. To some briefs exceptions, he remained in the capital city until his death in 1971. Between 1928 and 1932, he built a reputation as the main painter of a dissident surrealist group named Le Grand Jeu, and the author of dreamlike works as well as enigmatic portraits and landscapes. He became the favorite illustrator of Pierre Jean Jouve, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes and Roger Gilbert-Lecomte. In 1939, he left Paris for Midi and came back only in 1945, working as a cultural attaché for free Czechoslovakia. In 1949, shortly after the communist coup in Prague, and more than 10 years later, he quit his position to go back to painting, which became darker and more underground, with touches of light in abysmal compositions. Once again, he regained a reputation as a masterful painter of light and shadow, especially thanks to the bookseller and gallerist Jean Hugues and his Parisian gallery Le Point Cardinal. In 1968, three years before his death, the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris held his first retrospective exhibition. In his native country, he is considered one of the most talented (and best priced) Czech painters of the 20th century, next to his Parisian compatriots Mucha, Kupka and Toyen.
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