VISIONARY REVUE


Salome Sphinx - 1928

THE THIRD PERIOD (1928 - 1955)

      After the completion of the Fortin Chapel, the third period of Kalmakoff's works began (1928 - 1955). Beginning with the central figure of the Fortin Chapel, a more monumental style now pervaded Kalmakoff's oeuvre. The figures were broader, heavier, more voluminous, and eminently more present. Misogynist themes resurfaced. Salome re-appeared as a six-winged sphinx, caressing the Baptist's severed head with one of her mighty paws (Salome Sphinx - 1928 above). After a life-long fascination with naiades, water-nymphs (Amphitrite - 1927) and aquatic life (Two Seahorses - 1947), he rendered the Lord of the Seven Seas (Neptune - 1936) in this same epic style - the powerful muscles well-pronounced, the angular face in strong profile.
      Ironically, at the same time that Kalmakoff was producing these heroic works, his own life was undergoing a steady decline. As his funds ran out, he was forced to move down to smaller and cheaper rooms. The registry records this gradual descent, floor by floor, until he finally ended up in the hotel's small attic.



 
 
 


PARIS - SPRING 2004


Self Portrait - 1929

      He was also running out of friends. Kalmakoff had a falling-out with the Evreinoffs in 1931. "He was as disagreeable as possible, and we never saw him again after that. He left us with some very bad memories." Anna Evreinoff recalled. (KAL 13) Another time, he chased some compatriots out of the hotel, screaming "Dirty Russians! How can you speak such an abominable language?" (KAL 7)
      Worse still, his health was declining. Throughout his life, the artist had maintained a rigorous routine of athletics: regularly taking breaks from painting to perform bouts of gymnastics. More than once, his contemporaries had commented upon his vitality: "Kalmakoff surprised people with his strange appearance," said one. "He had a balding head with tufts of white hair. And he kept a meticulous appearance, very polished. He was also athletic and did a lot of gymnastics, even looking at the sun directly in the face." (KAL 15) "He was extremely healthy," remarked another, remembering that she had seen him doing headstands and walking on his hands at an advanced age. (KAL 8)
      But, Kalmakoff's arrogance and misanthropy, his cloistered existence, and his refusal to exhibit his works led to increasing poverty. As Mme S. his last intimate recalled, "Everyone in the building knew that the old painter in the attic was dying of hunger. It had come to the point where he was living off one cube of soup mix per day. But his arrogance discouraged all compassion..." (KAL 9)

 
 
 


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