2 Paintings in Collection
(1896 - 1962) Poland
Works in Public Collections
Museum Kunst der Verlorenen Generation, Salzburg, Austria
Selected Recent Exhibitions
The Women Artists who Studied under Andre Lhote, The Court Gallery, U.K., 2022
Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition: The Jeri L. Waxenberg Collection, Boise Art Museum, Idaho, 2002
Women of Montparnasse, Villa la Fleur, Ecole de Paris Museum, 2018
Uncovered and Recovered: Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, Ketchum, ID, 1999
Galerie Vercamer, Paris, 1972
Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition: The Jeri L. Waxenberg Collection, by Kristin Poole, JLW Collection, 2002
Uncovered and Recovered: Women Artists in the Modernist Tradition, Kristin Poole, Curator, Sun Valley Center for the Arts, 1999
Website of Stefan Schmitt: http://lostgen.art/ronget.html
Born 1899 Konitz, West Prussia (Poland)
Died 1980 Paris, France
Elisabeth Ronget's artistic career is illustrative of the challenges and opportunities faced by western artists working at the beginning of the 20th century. Ronget was schooled in traditional styles but quickly became engaged with the new approach modernists were taking. What resulted for Ronget was a body of work that combines the skill of traditional training with the structural approach of cubism.
Born the second daughter into a Jewish family in West Prussia, Ronget’s father worked as a lawyer but was interested in the arts. Growing anti-semitism in West Prussia forced the family to move to Hanover, Germany when Ronget was very young. There her father help found the Kestner Society, an organization created in 1916 to promote the arts.
Ronget developed a passion for drawing at an early age. Her parents recognized her interest and at 14 sent her to the Kunstgewerbeschule (School of Applied Arts) in Hanover. Her traditional schooling involved academic drawing classes and copying master paintings in museums. An early interest in Architecture soon shifted to painting and in 1917 Ronget pursued further art studies in Munich. While in school she worked for a newspaper as well as in a lingerie and costume shop. At this historic moment artists throughout Europe were exploring the ideas of the avant-garde. Secessionist movements begun in Austria and Germany encouraged artists to rebel against traditional restrictions on art's definition. Young artists were eager to challenge accepted canons and redefine art's relationship to the world. It soon became apparent to Ronget that there were more expansive ways to think about art than those which she had been taught. In the 1920s she moved to Berlin and became associated with avant-garde artists in the November Group.
In Berlin, Ronget was exposed to cubism and the work of Der Blaue Rieter who were working in a colorful decorative style similar to the Fauves. With this exposure Ronget understood that the modernists were proposing an entirely new way of making and considering art. She commented: It is necessary to forget everything one's learned up until now, not only forget but do it as if one had never seen a painting, as if the laws of perspective don't exist and the elementary principles of construction have never been invented. At base, it's very simple, it is necessary to completely start over.
Ronget began exhibiting her cubist pieces in restaurants and bookstores, and purchases encouraged her to continue. By 1930 the political situation in Germany had become dangerous and in 1931 Ronget moved to Paris. She enrolled in the Academie de la Grande Chaumiere and made a living decorating restaurants as well as designing fabrics and wallpaper for French fashion houses.
In 1934 she married Georges Emile Ronget who was a pilot and a member of the French resistance. He introduced her to painter Andre Lhote. In Lhote's studio Ronget became familiar with the revolutionary work of Paul Cezanne. Under the influence of Lhote and other French cubists, Ronget's forms simplified and her palette changed to incorporate earth tones of ochres, browns, mauves and blues. Lady with Fan and Lady with Guitar were more than likely done during this time and are examples of the academic cubism that Ronget was exposed to—forms are flattened and simplified, backgrounds are reduced to fields of geometric pattern. In both paintings Ronget has gone back into the canvas and scratched away areas—adding the interest of pattern to Lady with Guitar and suggesting texture and depth in Lady with Fan. There are no specific features defined for either of the sitters. Instead Ronget uses the conceit of the portrait to experiment with pattern and color. Instruments are a reoccurring motif for many Cubists as are Ronget's other subjects which include card players, still lifes, and people gathered at a bar.
In 1934 Ronget began exhibiting at the Salon d'Automne with Andre Lhote. A series of exhibitions followed and resulted in sales to collectors throughout Europe. But World War II interrupted the artist’s life and plans. In 1941, after the invasion of France, Ronget moved to Toulouse while her husband was in London, where the Charles de Gaulle’s government was working in exile. Records indicate that both parents were transported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in 1942 and died there. More than likely, they were exterminated. In 1943 Ronget decides to leave France, eventually making her way to the United States via Spain and Casablanca, where many refugees were stranded, waiting for ship passage to the U.S. In 1947 the couple’s marriage was dissolved. Georges died in a plane crash in 1950.
Ronget returned to Paris in 1948 but because of the dislocation caused by the war she had accomplished little painting in the prior decade. In the late 1940s her work was included in exhibitions at Salon des Independents, where she showed on and off for many years through the 1970s. In 1952 she returned to New York briefly (thru 1955) and exhibited at the Art Students League. In 1953 she exhibited at Salon des Realities Nouvelles; in 1954 and 1955 her work was in Salón de la Union de Painters and Sculptors; in 1956 at Salon des Surindependants; and in 1957, and many years thereafter, her work is included at Salon d’Automne. There are few records on Ronget’s sales but a 1974 interview with her by August Count of Krageneck in Paris indicates that she struggled to support herself but she continued to paint nonetheless.
From 1970 on, the city of Paris provided Ronget with studio space. As her work matured it became more colorful and more abstract. The geometric forms of the 1930s and 40s were softened and the contours become rounded. She had patrons who continued to support her until her death in 1980 at age 81.