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“Quand la poésie est là, le tableau est achevé. De la poésie pure, de préférence sans titre.”


March 22nd, birth in Kichinev, Russian Bessarabia, now Moldova. Birth name, Gheres Michonznic. Eldest of five children. His father keeps a draper’s shop. His mother comes from a family of rabbis.

Studies at the Kichinev Art School. Learns the egg tempera technique painting icons.

Continues his studies at the Academy of Painting in Bucarest, Bessarabia having become Romanian after the first world war. Works as set designer at the National theatre. Gets to know Victor Brauner.

Decides to live in Paris. Sails from Constanza to Marseilles, via Istambul and Greece, whose landscapes leave a lasting imprint on his work.
On his arrival in Paris, is directed straight to Montparnasse. At the café La Rotonde, meets Chaïm Soutine, with whom he feels a deep affinity.
Survives through casual jobs : meets Max Ernst in a workshop where they decorate galalith knick-knacks.

Max Ernst introduces him to the surrealist group : André Breton, Paul Eluard, Yves Tanguy, Louis Aragon, André Masson, Man Ray… Attends their meetings at the café Cyrano, but takes no official part in the group. Prefers Soutine’s company, « who’s surreality is different from that of Breton ».
Studies for a short time at the National School of Decorative Arts. Shows at the Salon d’Automne.

Shows at the Salon des Indépendants.
Among other casual jobs, designs models for printed fabrics for his friend Ilya Zdanevitch, alias Illiazd. Participates in the creation of Arthur Adamov’s and Claude Sernet’s avant garde review « Discontinuité », sees Robert Desnos, Max Jacob, Antonin Artaud, as well as the Romanian artists and poets, Brassaï, Benjamin Fondane, Ilarie Voronca, and Tristan Tzara. Illustrates some of their works and contributes to the Romanian reviews « Tiparnita Literara » and « Unu », from 1930 to 1932.

Meets Henry Miller at the terrace of the café Dôme. Beginning of a lifelong friendship.
For a short period, from 1928 to 1930, paints in a surrealistic style.

Lives for some time on the riviera in Cagnes-sur-Mer and Antibes, where he moves among the anglo-american colony of writers and artists who spend their summers there. Soutine takes him to see his favourite tree in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, painted eighteen times.

Shows his large canvas « Personnages et paysage », along with « Têtes » and « Personnages et animal » at the Salon des Indépendants where he exhibits regularly until 1937.
June 2nd, Julius Pascin takes his own life.

September : first solo exhibition in his Antibes studio.

Back in Paris, paints larger and more intricate compositions. His personal style, that he later calls « Surrealistic naturalism » asserts itself. Also paints small, almost miniature portraits.

Shows his large canvas « The farm », and «The musician », at the Salon des Indépendants.

Sails to the United States on the Normandy liner. Stays several months in Massachusetts and in New York.
Back in Paris, encouters a young Scottish artist, Una Maclean who is to become his model and wife and with whom he later has two children.
Friends with Francis Gruber whose artistic aims seem close to his own.

Enlists in the French army in 1939. Is taken prisoner in June 1940, and transfered to Germany, to stalag XC, 60 km from Bremen, near a camp where Russian prisoners of the Red Army are grouped together. Testifies by drawing them : the memory of his starved fellow countrymen will always haunt his work.
Released and back in Paris in December 1942.

Settles into a studio at 31 rue de Seine in Paris which is to remain his permenent address. Paints portraits and still lives of whatever food can be found. Draws his companion Una.
August : death of Chaïm Soutine.
September : birth of his daughter Anna.
Spends part of the time in Arpajon, near Paris, where Una and he have set up a studio to work together.

Michonze shows his « Memories of Captivity » in Arpajon: drawings and watercolours of scenes of the stalag, and heads of Russian soldiers, to the benefit of families of war prisoners.

Participates in many group exhibitions.

Hears from his family who are living in Iasi, Romania: his mother and sister have survived the terrible pogrom. His father has been killed by the Romanian Iron Guards, his brother David has managed to escape. No news from his two younger brothers.
First solo exhibition in London at the Arcade Gallery.

Takes up French nationality.
Solo exhibition at the Mayor Gallery in London.

Visits Scotland to attend solo exhibitions in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Death of his friend Francis Gruber.

The French State acquires his painting « The harvest », now in the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain (French Fund for Contemporary Art)

Learns etching and engraving in William Hayter’s studio in Paris.
Marriage with Una Maclean.
Solo exhibition at the Bassano Gallery in Aix en Provence.

First solo exhibition in Paris, at his friend Mayo’s studio.
Trip to Spain : Madrid, Bilbao.

Birth of his son, Patrick.
Trip to Israël to see his mother for the first time in 32 years.
Solo exhibition in Paris, Galerie Guénégaud.

Solo exhibition in London at the Adams Gallery. Henry Miller prefaces the catalogue.
Meets Abel Rambert, who is to become his regular dealer in Paris.

Awarded the William and Noma Copley prize (Chicago).

Solo exhibition in Switzerland, at the Valloton Gallery, Lausanne. Beginning of the series : « Rixes » (Brawls)

Shows at the Salon Comparaisons.
Solo exhibition in Israël, at the Jean Tiroche Gallery, Jaffa.

Included in the surrealist exhibition organised by Patrick Waldberg at the Galerie Charpentier in Paris. Shows « On joue la rouge », which is acquired in 1972, by the French State, (Fonds national d’Art Contemporain, now at the Museum of Art and History of Judaism in Paris).
Awarded the first Grand Prize of the Biennale of Trouville.

Included in the exhibition « Mars autour du Surréalisme » at the Maison de la Culture of Caen, where he shows two paintings, « On joue la Rouge » and « Il y a un nu et des aveugles ».
Shows at the Salon de Mai and and the Salon Comparaisons.
Trip to Amsterdam with Patrick Waldberg whose story on Montparnasse, « Le pays de Grégoire Michonze », has just been published in the last number of the review « Le Mercure de France ».
Trip to Israël to see his mother, at his brother David’s home.

Death of his mother in Israël.

Acquisition of an ancient water mill in the village of Jully sur Sarce, in Champagne, near Troyes.

Has large studios built at the mill in Jully, in the adjoining barn. Spends several months every year working there.
Suffers two heart attacks that year. When unable to paint, he models small clay heads and figures, some of which are given a bronze edition.

Trip to Rome and Venice where he paints from life.

Group exhibition at the Petit Palais in Geneva.
Solo exhibition in London « Birds, beasts and humans » at the Buckingham Gallery. Catalogue introduction by Patrick Waldberg. While in London, begins a series of very large and much lighter canvasses, using mineral oil in stead of turpentine, to a mat, fresco like effect, which is to become the main technique of his later works.

Opening of the exhibition  « Henry Miller’s Parisian friends » at the American Cultural Center in Paris : projection of Robert Snyder’s film, « The Henry Miller Odyssey », with an interview of Michonze by Miller in his rue de Seine studio.
At the mill in Jully, beginning of a series of large charcoal and pastel figures and heads on thick manilla paper, that is to continue all through his last period.

Takes up engraving and etching again, at the mill in Jully, where he has a hand press installed to do his own printing.
Solo show at the Givon Gallery in Tel-Aviv.

August 7th, death of his wife Una, in Troyes.
Works regularily at springtime in his Tel-Aviv studio.

Retrospective exhibition of over a hundred paintings at the Thibaud de Champagne cultural center in Troyes.

Exhibits his large charcoal and pastel drawings of the seventies at the Thibaud de Champagne cultural center in Troyes.

In spring, works in Israël at large oblong drawings with many figures, and paints tumultuous gouaches at the mill in Champagne in summer and in Paris, in autumn.
29th of December : dies of a heart attack in his Paris studio at the age of 80.

Retrospective show at The Museum of Modern Art of Troyes.

Retrospective show at the Galerie Francis Barlier, Paris.

Solo exhibition at the Galerie Coard, Paris

Solo exhibition at the Museum of Art and History of Judaïsm, Paris.
Solo exhibition at the Galerie Visconti, Paris.


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