Still Life with Fruit, c. 1927
oil on canvas
25-1/2'' x 31-3/4''
Pailes, Isaac
1895-1978

Pailes was born in the city of Kiev in the Ukraine, to a family of goldsmiths. His grandfather on his mother side was a wood burner. When Pailes was thirteen years old he began showing interest in printmaking and sculpturing.

His early sculpture works were acquired by the museum of Kiev. In 1910, he entered the Academy of Fine Arts in Kiev, where he met Isaac Rybak and Max Kaganovitch (both Jewish- Ukrainian artists) who will later become his art dealers for the next forty years. Pailes arrived at Paris in 1913, where he shared a room with Mane Katz (1894-1962) and studied sculpture in the Academy of Fine Arts of Paris.

A year later, in 1914, he returned to the Ukraine. When the Bolshevik revolution broke in Russia, he was sent to the front line in Crimea, but refused fighting. In exchange for a gold ring, Pailes managed to get a ticket on a boat heading to Constantinople.

Pailes returned to Paris in 1919, and his first stop was La Rotonde café, where he found two of his friends: Michel Kikoine (1892-1968) and Isaac Dobrinsky (1891-1973). They welcomed him home and gave him clothes to wear. In the first period of his resumed life in Paris, Pailes worked as a model in order to support himself.

In 1920, Pailes abandoned sculpture and started painting; he also became a collector of primitive art. During this period he kept a close relationship with the art lovers of his time: the commissioner Zamaron, the dealer Paquereau and Georges Berheim. Pailes was always very much attached to his Slavic origin; he participated in the activities of the Russian artists' society, and he was the chairman of the Russian artists in Montparnasse.

During War World II, Pailes settled in eastern Pyrenees and later in Auvergne. He joined a Belgium resistant group from Rochefort, called "Travail Obligatoire en Allemagne" (compulsory labor in Germany), and he remained in an attic for eleven months. When the day of liberation came, Pailes returned to Montparnasse and continued with his painting.

Only in 1948, Pailes painted his first abstract painting, which are perhaps the most interesting of his work.