Nicolas Kalmakoff

Below is an excerpt from “Kalmakoff: the Visionary” by L. Caruana, published in the Visionary Review (2004).  A link to the original full article is also included, which additionally contains tandem images of curators and an image gallery of the artist’s paintings.  The mystery and romanticism that surround Kalmakoff are as compelling as his work itself, and I for one tend to revel in the intrigue of it all, cliché of the outsider artist be damned.  Like Darger et al, Kalmakoff was an anomaly of brilliance, creating with an influential inkling of the period’s genre [art nouveau] but clearly drawing more readily from a completely intuitive, and often dark place.   I was fascinated by Caruana’s article, fortified through Kalmakoff’s work in my appreciation for artwork rejected by the high brow, and am perpetually reminded by both of the way in which art is as much about individualism as it is the human condition.  Enjoy.


In 1955, a Russian émigré died alone, unknown and in poverty at the hôpital de Lagny to the north of Paris. After leading a hermit’s existence in his small room at the hotel de la Rochefoucault in Paris, this former Russian aristocrat had created a fascinating body of work which, deemed eccentric and worthless, was locked away in storage and forgotten.

      Throughout his solitary life, the artist had painted works that reflected his various obsessions with martyrdom, asceticism, decadence, spirituality and sexuality. Executed in a style marked by the Russian art nouveau, his imagery nevertheless transcended this movement, bearing undeniable traces of demented vision, indeed, genius.
      Only in 1962 did some of his works come to light when Bertrand Collin du Bocage and Georges Martin du Nord discovered forty canvases in theMarché aux Puces, a large flea market to the north of Paris. All the works in this unusual collection were signed with a stylized ‘K’ monogram.
      The Hungarian merchant who sold the lot to them included with it a poster of an exhibition held in Galerie Le Roy, Brussels, in 1924. Here, for the first time, the full name of the mysterious ‘K’ was revealed – Nicolas Kalmakoff. 



1 Response to “Nicolas Kalmakoff”

  1. February 7, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Wow, awesome blog format! How lengthy have
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    your site is great, as neatly as the content material!

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