Welcome to Invaluable's Artist Spotlight series, a collection of profiles that highlight artists you may not know (yet). Our editors have hand-selected painters, sculptors, and photographers to give you the inside scoop on their process, aesthetic, and their place in the market today.
Time and again, painters return to Paris as a subject because of its long history of inspiring masters like Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso. To kick off our new series, we’ve decided to follow in their footsteps and explore the city that has inspired so many.
Arts and culture have flourished in Paris for hundreds of years. 17th century Baroque art, 18th century Neoclassicism, 19th century Impressionism, 20th century Art Deco, and many more movements put down roots in Paris before taking the world by storm. Artist Michel Delacroix, with his nostalgic street views depicting the Paris of yesterday, exemplifies the magic of the French capital for artists and art lovers alike.
The Artist and His Work
French artist Michel Delacroix (b. 1933) began painting at the age of seven during the German occupation of Paris. He experimented with style at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before settling into the Naïf style, which is characterized by spontaneity and freedom from realism. Today, Delacroix (now in his mid-80s) continues to paint the city and people of Paris as it was during the time between World War I and World War II.
“When he does the cityscape he’ll take artistic license, not everything is necessarily true to scale or perspective,” says Mitch Plotkin of M Fine Arts Galerie. “He’s painting a dream of the past rather than the actual city, so it’s more the Paris that people dream of; the way it was at the turn of the century.”
Observers of Delacroix’s work will recognize some Parisian landmarks in his paintings, like the Eiffel Tower or the Palais Garnier; however, more often than not the artist depicts an ordinary, activity-filled street. “It’s the feeling of a simpler time: people walking their dog or a couple embracing on a balcony,” says Plotkin. Indeed, viewers may notice a recurring black and white dog present in many of the artist’s paintings, a detail that serves as homage to Delacroix’s own childhood pet.
Delacroix has been exhibiting for 50 years, resulting in over 300 solo exhibitions in the United States alone. In 1994, he was commissioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee to create a painting for the 100 year anniversary of the Olympics in Atlanta. Additionally, his works have been featured in shows across Europe and Asia, and several books have been published on his paintings.
The Artist in the Market
In today’s market, Delacroix’s works may range anywhere from $6,000 to $50,000, although Plotkin notes that one recently sold to a collector in a private sale through M. Fine Arts Galerie for $150,000. The artist has many dedicated followers: one collector purchased a group of ten paintings last year, while there are others who maintain a singular interest in his works year after year.
“We have major collectors that own his work, commissions that he’s done for prominent artists, and his paintings have hung in the White House, but many of the collectors are just average people who walk into the gallery and his work just makes them feel happy. It’s nothing political and it’s not changing art history, it’s just creating a warm feeling that people of all ages respond to. For us, that’s why he’s been more successful," says Plotkin.
Today, Plotkin says the artist’s most dedicated fans and collectors are in the United States, Japan, and Korea. "Delacroix was at an art fair in South Korea this past summer and he was treated almost like a rockstar. People lined up for him to sign books. That’s unusual for an artist to get that reception in his mid-80s."
The Artist and His Legacy
For some collectors, Michel Delacroix’s work may be out of range. Luckily, his daughter Fabienne Delacroix continues his legacy. Having grown up in her father’s studio, she adopted a similar, albeit more Impressionist, style. For collectors looking for a similar aesthetic, prices of Fabienne’s works typically range between $1,200 and $10,000.
M Fine Arts Galerie represents both Michel and Fabienne Delacroix. "We definitely have collectors buying Fabienne's work because they like it, but they also have it in mind that her work may increase in price. Others buy her work because they love Michel’s but it’s not in their price range," says Plotkin. "Fabienne’s work is more accessible." And, to some, it's equally as stunning.