Józef Czapski: painter, prisoner, and disciple of Proust

Józef Czapski: painter, prisoner, and disciple of Proust

On the morning of 2 September 1939, the Polish painter Józef Czapski, then 43 years old, slipped a slim volume of the memoirs of André Gide into his greatcoat pocket and headed off to war with invading Nazi forces. He was released in September 1941, when Stalin amnestied his Polish prisoners in order that they could fight his former Nazi ally following the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June of that year. He spent eight years in cosmopolitan prewar Paris, exchanging ideas with French and Russian artists and writers, forming passionate attachments with both women and men (including one with Vladimir Nabokov’s younger brother Sergey, who would perish in a Nazi camp where gay men were subjected to hideous medical experiments) and devoting himself to realising a vision of painting he found pursued in the work of Cézanne.

Source: www.newstatesman.com

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