The Roaring Twenties "

The Roaring Twenties

  • The Pigall's.

    SICARD Pierre (1900 - 1980)

  • White square.

    GROMAIRE Marcel (1892 - 1971)

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Title: The Pigall's.

Author : SICARD Pierre (1900 - 1980)

Creation date : 1925

Date shown: 1925

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Carnavalet museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © Photo library of the Museums of the City of Paris - Photo Habouzit

Picture reference: 90 CAR 1200 (A2)

© Photo library of the Museums of the City of Paris - Photo Habouzit

To close

Title: White square.

Author : GROMAIRE Marcel (1892 - 1971)

Creation date : 1928

Date shown: 1928

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Oil on canvas.

Storage location: Carnavalet museum (Paris) website

Contact copyright: © ADAGP, © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bullozsite web

Picture reference: 07-525732

© ADAGP, Photo RMN-Grand Palais - Bulloz

Publication date: October 2006

Historical context

Montmartre, heart of the Roaring Twenties

Two mythical places of Parisian nightlife punctuate Boulevard de Clichy, which serves as an ambulatory for the Butte Montmartre: Place Blanche, sung by Jacques Dutronc and dominated since 1889 by the wings of the Moulin-Rouge; and Place Pigalle, no less sulphurous and populated by cabarets. Pigall's, at number 7, has succeeded Rat Mort, a former bohemian café frequented in particular by Degas, Manet and Courbet.

During the Belle Époque, these places on the fringes of bourgeois Paris were still quite rural, rather artists and "scoundrels". After the war, these old suburbs are at the center of the “Parisian night” so characteristic of the Roaring Twenties: part of society wants to forget the hundreds of thousands of deaths and the privations of the Great War. Instead of mourning, the party; to past scarcity, we respond with abundance and exuberance; to being bogged down in the war effort, we prefer the liberation of bodies and minds; a time of darkness must succeed perpetual illumination.

Image Analysis

Pigalle, symbol of the luxury of the night, between carefree and mystery

Pierre Sicard painted in 1925 The Pigall’s, a work that appears to be a fairly successful attempt to sum up the spirit of the Roaring Twenties with a broad pictorial movement. The composition is based on a subtle fade from the foreground to the background. The central table, archetype of paintings of this kind, is framed by two female couples: the one on the left, aggressive boyish girls, defying the gaze on the right, more modest and intimate. Other couples are either seated, in the second and third plan, or closely entwined in the dancing crowd. The omnipresence of the black color of the frocks underlines the explosion of colors that evokes a permanent celebration: the dresses, the feathers of the Indian headdresses, the flying ribbons. The general tone opts for gilding and a satin pink which is reminiscent of the color of sensuality that Proust attributes to Gilberte. In Sicard's quasi-photographic snapshot, the recurrence of outstretched bare arms connotes an oriental lasciviousness while participating in the overall movement punctuated by the musicians who vibrate on the stage, in the background.

Place Blanche, painted in 1928, is one of the major works of Marcel Gromaire. The title immediately echoes the complexion of the rather ambiguous female figure who occupies the center of the composition. Less "white" than the exuberant boa which uncovers her shoulders or the rows of pearls which underline her silhouette, her nudity, accentuated by the degradation of the pale pink of the dress, symbolizes the "place" at the heart of the painting. . Everything else is just the background - starting with the two male characters who surround the young woman. Just behind her, like her shadow, embraces her a black mass barely showing a profile, the caricature of a man. Further back, to the left, a bellboy disappears behind his suit and his function. Finally, in the background, Gromaire rhymes "bar" with "Par (is)" and uses a few geometric lines to create a night scene that is both romantic (the moonlight shrouded in clouds) and electric (the neon lights). color). Only the body of the young woman gives off a "natural" light in this artificial landscape of the Parisian night and concentrically irradiates the other elements.


Incandescent madness or electric madness

The two painters belong to two successive generations marked by a pictorial culture and a war experience that are necessarily dissimilar. Marcel Gromaire (1892-1971), the eldest of the two, was born in the north of France; he exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Indépendants in 1911, then received advice from Matisse and became passionate about the Flemish primitives. Called up for military service in 1913, he was directly mobilized in 1914 and remained a soldier until 1919. Like many others, he was wounded in 1916. His first personal exhibition, in 1921, revealed an expressionist painter sensitive to city ​​and the man who lives there. He uses a very dark palette. It was not until the end of the 1920s that Gromaire found bright colors, as in his painting Place Blanche, which associates nocturnal Paris with the female nude. The central female figure, statue and flame at the same time, thus embodies the incandescent night of the Roaring Twenties of Montmartre.

Pierre Sicard (1900-1980) is the son of the sculptor François Sicard. Too young to participate in the conflict, however, he is old enough to fully feel this period of trials. After collaborating for a time with his father, he devoted himself to painting and exhibited for the first time in 1924, in Paris. His work, in a rather post-impressionist style, is marked by the recurring theme of the Parisian night, its bars, its music halls. For example, he painted the performances of the Negro review with Joséphine Baker. The Pigall’s, owned by the Carnavalet Museum, is also often loaned out for exhibitions relating to the Paris of the Roaring Twenties. Unlike Gromaire, Sicard chooses an electric light for his canvas a giorno, blinding, all in mobility and lightness - in short, another vision of the woman, no less modern.

  • dance
  • women
  • Hobbies
  • Paris
  • Montmartre
  • 20s


François GROMAIRE, Marcel Gromaire. Life and work, catalog raisonné of paintings, Paris, Bibliothèque des arts, 1993. Jean-Jacques LÉVÊQUE, Le Triomphe de l'art moderne.Les années folles, Courbevoie, ACR, 1992. Pierre Sicard: From the Paris of the Roaring Twenties to the Paris of the past, catalog of the exhibition at the Musée Carnavalet, September 4-October 31, 1981, Paris, Museums of the City of Paris, 1981.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, “The“ Roaring Twenties ””

Video: The Roaring Twenties 1939 Trailer